Dear Campus Community,

Once again, I am called on to respond to problematic social media posts involving race.

Shippensburg University is deeply committed to inclusivity and diversity, and we work collaboratively with our students to build a culture that promotes inclusion and transformation.

Our university flourishes when we take our role as citizens as a deeply held commitment that positively impacts the overall well-being of our communities and society. Citizenship in a democracy is contingent upon freedom of inquiry, speech, and action, and I am writing to invite you to boldly use our campus community to create meaningful solutions when we encounter speech or actions that are not aligned with our inclusive commitments.

There is no legal basis for a public university to punish members of our community for their opinions:  It is illegal. But there is a social justice imperative that calls us together to solve our community problems.

Let’s embrace the essence of what it means to be citizens in a democracy by being courageous and unafraid in bringing solutions off the Internet and into our vibrant live community where contradictory beliefs can be debated and processed with actual people to generate understanding and all-important enlightenment. Beliefs change when people are moved by bonding and bridge building.

We begin our new semester in a few short days. When we do, join me as we celebrate Black History Month and renew our commitment to each other through our actions not just our words. As always, I am available to you. It is as easy as hitting reply.

Stephanie A. Jirard
Chief Diversity Officer