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Letter to the Editor — Christine Schneikart-Luebbe

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The past 18 months leading to the election I have watched and listened to my students, colleagues and friends share their feelings about the candidates and the process — some of it in person but much of it via social media, most of which was not civil.  Sadly I have seen families and friendships significantly fractured as a result of the vitriol.  Certainly this is an incredibly challenging time for us as a nation.

My message today is one of acknowledgement and hope. Open, honest, respectful dialogue has always been critically important — but even more so today.  We must find a way to be civil to one another.  Many of my colleagues and I got into the profession of higher education, because we want to help students follow their dreams, achieve their goals, open their minds, embrace diversity and find their individual success.  At our core we want students to embrace the concept of opening their minds to new ways of doing things, to become enlightened, to become more educated. Wichita State’s strategic plan explicitly states, “Empower students to create a campus culture and experience that meets their changing needs.”

This happens as a result of respectful dialogue in a safe environment. We don’t want any of our students to feel unsafe, devalued or marginalized.  We want to help our students who are struggling with despair and genuine fear for their future. It is incumbent on all of us to help facilitate a safe and brave environment for all of our students. We need to encourage our students to pursue their passion and to work with great purpose.

We have resources available on campus through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, 978-3034 and through Counseling and Testing at 978-3440.

My office, the AVP and Dean of Students Office (RSC 231) at 978-3149 is always open for any student who wants to come engage in a conversation.

We recognize we have a diverse group of students studying with us and we welcome their different ideas and philosophies.

We want to encourage and foster the respectful sharing of ideas.  Let’s celebrate our differences and open our minds through civil discourse to create a community of understanding.

In these moments, we must turn to our fundamental values, among them a strong commitment to freedom of thought and expression, dedication to tolerance and reason, and respect for differing points of view.

Remember, WSU is committed to helping each student create a campus culture and experience which meets their changing needs.

Please help us spread this message of hope and encouragement. As we continue to learn from each other, I look forward to our future conversations.

—Christine Schneikart-Luebbe, 

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students

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