TO THE EDITOR:
In the wake of the Presidential election, many Miami University faculty, staff, students and Oxford community members are uncertain about the direction our nation may take with regard to its historically marginalized and immigrant populations. As a Miami/Oxford family, we take pride in being part of a campus and community that values ‘Love and Honor,’ a motto we desperately need to reaffirm.
Hate crimes targeting people of color, women and minorities have proliferated in the days after the election according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. These acts are not confined to large cities, nor are they “just stories” being propagated by news media. Hateful acts are occurring right here in our local community as demonstrated by the recent posting of Nazi-reminiscent White Power posters on campus.
As a result of both local and national reports of these kinds, many of us are deeply concerned about the safety and mental health of faculty, staff and students from a wide array of backgrounds.
We stand for free speech and free expression, but we also recognize that students cannot learn optimally in an environment of fear and our faculty and staff can neither work nor educate optimally when they feel that they or their students are unsafe. As a coalition which represents historically marginalized groups, we urge the administration and city to take meaningful and clear action to prevent any instances of intolerance or harassment based on race, religion, immigration status, national origin, gender, LGBTQI+ status or disability on our campus and in our community.
We urge you to be proactive in this regard. We cannot miss this opportunity to unite together to positively affirm the value of inclusion, which is supposed to lie at the heart of the American — and certainly the Miami — experience.
To make this unity more visible, we urge the campus administration and city of Oxford to collaborate in the installation of international flags along High St. in Oxford (temporarily replacing light pole banners) to represent the many countries from which Oxford residents and Miami students and faculty originate (in Fall 2016 admitted students came from 53 foreign countries); the rainbow flag; along with American, Miami and Ohio flags. Large vinyl banners might also be hung above High Street and the Shriver Center with a statement affirming our values.
We know Miami University stands for inclusion as well as excellence in higher education, and we look forward to learning more about how the university intends to demonstrate its commitment to both before the semester is over. We welcome all thoughts and suggestions and hope the university shares our commitment to a bold statement in a time that requires thoughtful and timely action.
Asian/Asian-American Faculty and Staff Association (AAA-FSA)