Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dear Howard University Community,

Howard University is committed to the principles of free speech, public protest, and inclusivity, even though these ideals may sometimes conflict with one another. However, our commitment to the safety, well-being, and support of the Howard University community remains our highest priority.

Freedom of expression is embedded in our founding principles. As a campus administration, we have honored this principle by defending the right of community members who express a wide range of often conflicting points of view. Howard University has long been a safe haven for such discourse, welcoming opposing views and providing a platform for stimulating dialogue among students, faculty, staff and alumni alike. Moreover, we are choosing to defend the right to free expression at a historic moment for our nation, when this right is once again of insurmountable importance.

While I respect freedom of expression, I strongly oppose vandalism as a form of free expression. I am aware of the recent vandalism that has occurred on this campus and these actions will not be tolerated. This administration will take any and all actions necessary to bring misguided uses of expression to a halt. The key to our progress is respectful dialogue, not bullying behaviors. As we learn to communicate with those who have opposing views, we must be sure that our tone and tenor is not rude or abusive. I encourage us all to avoid the use of condemning speech in the face of adversity and to be mindful that our opinions and words can elicit strong actions that diminish the University’s commitment to providing an excellent educational experience for all students.

In the true spirit of Howard University, being solution driven, I am asking members of the community to join me in conversation over the next several weeks to discuss campus relations that impact us all. This series of dialogues will begin later this week when I meet with student leaders from across campus. It is critical that we include as many voices as possible in the conversation as we work to advance this institution and plan our progress forward. Any student, faculty, or staff member who is interested in joining these dialogues should contact Mr. Calvin Hadley, Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives and Student Ombudsman via email: hustudentadvocate@howard.edu. Howard University is a place that I call home; a place that I love; a place that nurtured me. Every member of our community calls her home, so we should all have respect for her. Every member of our diverse community must engage responsibly and ensure that our actions are infused with goodwill, kindness, and respect. Our common ground must be Truth and Service.

As always, my team and I remain supportive of our students and will engage in educated discourse with anyone who is invested in advancing the Capstone.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
President