Dear Campus Community,
I want to offer a warm welcome back to campus to our students, faculty and staff. And to those of you who are new to UMass, we are pleased to have you join our lively and diverse campus community.
As we embark upon the spring semester and our nation transitions to a new presidential administration in Washington, there are many unsettling issues in the air and many fundamental questions being asked that go to the heart of our ideals as Americans and our role in the world. As we grapple with these questions, I want to make it clear that at the flagship campus we remain committed to the welfare and success of all members of our community, whether they be student, faculty or staff, and pledge to do everything within our legal and moral authority to protect them, no matter their national origin, race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual identity or immigration status. They all have the same rights to pursue their educational and professional goals in a supportive environment that is based on mutual respect and is free of fear, intimidation or violence.
Furthermore, we will vigorously continue our leadership in environmental stewardship informed by science. Through the breadth and scope of our research endeavors and the innovations in how we run our campus, we remain committed to combatting climate change and promoting a sustainable future that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. Make no mistake, we will continue to rely on science, reason and critical dialogue in our advocacy of environmental pursuits that protect the health of our planet.
I am proud of our campus’s activism and commitment to social and environmental justice. Regardless of your political leanings, this is the time to be an active participant in the democratic process. Following the example of Rutgers University President Robert Barchi, I want to bring to your attention a bill called the Bridge Act, which was recently introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group of legislators concerned about potential changes in federal immigration policy. Co-Sponsored by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), in the Senate (S.128), and Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in the House (H.R.496), the Bridge Act would proffer “provisional protected presence” to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students. If you feel strongly about this issue, as I know first-hand that many of you do, then I encourage you to contact your elected representatives in Washington (Senate, House of Representatives) to let them know where you stand and enlist their support.
As with most college campuses we are beginning to see an increase in expressions of “hate speech” in the middle of this head-turning transition. Our commitment to inclusive excellence, free speech and mutual respect will surely be tested but I know that shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you, we will prevail. Hate has no home at UMass. Our motto is “Many Voices, Our UMass.”
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy