On behalf of the UNC Asheville Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, and the UNC Asheville Senior Staff, and in consultation with the UNC Asheville Faculty Senate Executive Committee, we write to offer this reminder about the university’s values and our commitment to free speech and open dialogue as we prepare for the Martin Luther King Jr. week of activities (Jan. 19-25, 2019).
The Constitutional and democratic principles of freedom of thought and expression are central to our mission as a university, especially during the day honoring the legacy and enduring values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As has been our custom, the university’s invitation to an individual speaker at a university event in no way implies endorsement of that speaker’s comments, critiques, views, ideas, or actions. Further, the university’s fundamental principles reject bias in all of its forms including anti-Semitism and discrimination.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked with diverse and sometimes opposing groups to overcome intolerance and to engage in the difficult yet vital work of the civil rights movement. He allowed a plurality of voices to be heard and encouraged meaningful conversations with respect and reason. His legacy continues today, across the country and across differing groups, all working for social justice and advancing his message of tolerance and non-violence.
At their best, universities are places where thoughtful discussions and respectful disagreements can take place. Students, faculty, staff, and the community benefit from conversations, lectures, and roundtables that strengthen our ability to think critically and to judge independently. Our Martin Luther King Jr. week of activities is designed to provide, in addition to the keynote address, educational opportunities to enlighten through critical thinking, open dialogue, and thoughtful discourse. Efforts are currently underway to create opportunities for our campus and the Asheville community to engage in dialogue around the keynote address, as well as many topics emerging from the activities planned for the week.
The core of our UNC Asheville academic mission is clear and thoughtful expression, free and open inquiry, critical thinking, undergraduate research, and community engagement. We encourage our academic community to see the common humanity in us all, despite our differences, and to uphold the knowledge that respect for human dignity will advance our democratic principles.
Nancy J. Cable, Ph.D. Karin Peterson, Ph.D.
Chancellor Interim Provost