Dear Rutgers University – Newark community members,
The wave of protest actions taking place on college campuses across the nation, now including Rutgers-Newark, is rooted in pain. We are all pained when we witness human suffering of the form, intensity, and scope of what we are seeing among Israelis and Palestinians. Layered upon that for many at Rutgers-Newark and in our communities is the added pain that comes from identifying with groups suffering on account of their identities.
Protest is one way we respond to such pain. It is a vitally important form of free expression in our democracy and universities long have been recognized as particularly important sites of protest, especially at times when our nation is struggling to reconcile disparate interpretations of global conflicts and shape public policies that can help restore peace and promote healing.
At moments like this, we see just how real that struggle is. We need to speak our minds and advocate for our perspectives and it is essential that we do that with basic human empathy and respect for each other—in other words, peacefully. That is the only way we ultimately will be able to actually hear each other and find inclusive paths forward—a process to which I am personally committed.
Rutgers-Newark is a place that points with pride to its own history of protest having shaped us into one of the nation’s most diverse universities and the anchor institution in Newark that we are today, joining with many partners to advance racial equity and equitable growth. Even as we move fully into final exams recognizing how important it is for us all to avoid disruptions for our students in this culminating phase of their year of hard work, we will continue to safeguard peaceful protest as a fundamental aspect of our institutional identity.
With respect,
Nancy Cantor
Rutgers University – Newark