To college and university chancellors and presidents, let us know we work in a place of peace, safety, and open dialog

With some assistance, I've been working on the following. These are my words but also the words of others. It's rough, but it makes a point.

Dear Chancellor,

I write this as a proud member of the UM-Flint faculty to express both my dismay at the repressive use of force against students at the University of California-Davis and at Baruch College - City University of New York and to make a heartfelt request that you make a public statement of support for campus community members' right to protest in public spaces. 

I also write this as an instructor in a university-wide program that encourages and requires students to use the arts of rhetoric and writing to persuade, to think, and to make their voices heard. As such, I am saddened and outraged that students in US colleges and universities are being met with pepper spray and riot shields when they choose to peacefully exercise what they have learned. Furthermore, I worry that our students, staff, faculty, and management may be watching the UC-Davis video (which has gone viral) or footage of last night's clash between police and students at Baruch College-CUNY and be concerned about what may happen on the UM-Flint campus should they choose to speak their minds.

In the wake of events at Penn State University, you sent an important message to the campus community. In the wake of events at UC-Davis and Baruch College-CUNY, I think it important to send another important message. I ask, then, that you write an open letter of assurance that students, staff, faculty, and management will be safe if we choose to protest on our campus and that, rather than meeting any protests with violence, you will use them as an opportunity to engage in dialogue about our concerns. I trust your fundamental humanity and fairness; please share that with our community, so we know we can be thankful that we attend and work for a university that is a place of peace, safety, and open dialog. 

Extending you best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving,
Dr. James Schirmer
Assistant Professor of English