Dear University community,
Several weeks ago, I challenged the Ohio University Student Senate President in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She responded on September 2nd with a video urging the University divest itself from any interest in Israel. Ohio University responded yesterday with the following statement:
The role and value of a higher education institution is to foster civil discussions about important and complex issues. To be sure, the Student Senate president in her video altered the original spirit with which President Roderick J. McDavis issued the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Her actions do not reflect the position of Ohio University or President McDavis. We recognize the rights of individual students to speak out on matters of public concern and we will continue to do so, but want to be clear that the message shared today by her is not an institutional position or a belief held by President McDavis.
In a university community of our size, there are many issues that merit our attention and dialogue. As stewards of the public trust, we have a responsibility to encourage the free exchange of ideas. For it is through dialogue on conflicting views that we will move toward mutual understanding.
I take great pride in the fact that Ohio University is a community that tackles hard issues head-on. The conflict in Israel and Gaza is no exception. But the manner in which we conduct ourselves as we exercise our right to free speech is of utmost importance.
In my First Year Student Convocation address, I emphasized the idea that we are a University family. As members of a University family, we will not always agree, but we should respect one another. And when we engage in difficult dialogue on issues such as this, we must do so with civility and a deep appreciation for the diverse and resilient international community in which we live.
Roderick J. McDavis