To the Editor,
There have been media reports of student, faculty, and other organizations advocating for the removal of one person from the 31-member UNC system committee crafting strategy for the state’s public universities. I would strongly recommend against this strategy.
I have spent my career working with individuals, groups, and organizations trying to build consensus, bridge across ideological boundaries, and encourage respect, dignity, and love for each human being. Moreover, as a faculty member at a university, I have been trained to engage in respectful dialogue about ideas, to use evidence to convince people persuasively to change their minds. To be honest, it sends chills down my spine to hear about people who intentionally want to silence the voice of any legitimate constituent. I thought that was a tactic of a bygone era in America.
I encourage us to be inspired by, and follow the example of, Aaron Johnson, who spoke at UNCP on Martin Luther King Day this year. After King’s assassination, Gov. Dan Moore called on Johnson to go to Wilmington to help calm the tremendous unrest that could possibly turn into full-scale rioting. Johnson insisted that a member of the KKK be included in the community discussions that took place that provided some calm to the situation.
For us to continue to make progress as a society, we need to be open to all ideas expressed, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then collectively decide on the best ideas. Let’s not be afraid of someone’s ideas who are different from ours.