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Building relationships for a just community

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mountaineers:

I hope that the semester is settling in for you as we finish nearly a month of classes. There are many ways for you to be engaged in our campus and community, and I hope that you are finding ways to do so.

This past weekend, as we hosted the University of Miami, the energy on our campus was incredible. As I walked around and visited with so many of you, lined up in all directions, you were gracious and dedicated to supporting our team. It truly was an epic atmosphere, and it felt good to be a part of the Appalachian Community.

I was also struck by the direct contrast between this environment that brought our community together, and some events this past week involving chalking, and language use that was hurtful to many within our community. On college campuses in particular, you have an opportunity to explore difficult discussions taking place in our state and country, to consider your role in what is taking place now, and what your role will be in creating change. As you have these conversations, I hope that you will keep in mind what Chancellor Everts shared in her message to campus last week:

“I encourage each member of our community to hold fast to their ideals and beliefs, and in doing so, respect the humanity and individual value of others. As we move forward together, let us accept the challenge to embrace our best selves.”

In being a member of the Appalachian Community, we must bring our “best selves” each and every day. This is difficult, and we will make missteps, but it is important to continue moving forward together. Institutions of higher education foster dialogue, discussion and debate. I have said many times, “if we cannot have these conversations on a college campus, where can we?”

Saturday’s game provided an amazing environment and an important opportunity for our community to support something bigger than ourselves. It was about Appalachian State University. Let us carry that spirit forward and actively seek opportunities for respectful dialogue as we move forward in the coming weeks and months, and work to understand each individual’s value in our community. In light of the shooting and protests in Charlotte, we are once again reminded of the value of life, and the importance of building relationships that create a just community.

Our Dean of Students Office is here to support you, as we all work to continue to build a community we are all proud to call home. If I can ever be of assistance to you in this journey, please let me know.

Proud to be your Dean of Students,

-JJ