Eric Barron responded personally to an email we sent Old Main this morning asking for the motivation behind sending his letter that asked for civility from the Penn State community. He said the letter wasn’t sent because of any event or about a “side” on the issues; rather, it stems from an accumulation of examples, some of which are national.
Here’s his response verbatim:
I thought I would respond to you directly. The letter, which comes from discussion at many levels in the University, arises from several examples. Let me give you a few. This spring, many commencement speakers at different universities across the country were disinvited or bowed out because groups exhibited outrage because they disagreed with actions taken by the speakers. That is incredibly unhealthy given that universities should be places where you are able to discuss ideas freely. Alumni candidates on both sides of the issues related to the Consent degree have complained that they were astounded by the rudeness of some of the comments they received. That is not exactly the message we want when we want to encourage strong candidates to run for office. We have donors who tell me this is a subject to avoid, or if they have spoken out loud about it, that they have lost their “feel good about Penn State” sense. That is a sad story. Some may think this letter is about a “side” or an event, but it isn’t, and it would be good to re-read it. The letter is about making sure we can talk about important issues, and it stems from and accumulation of examples, some of which are national in scope.