President's Message Regarding Vandalism on Campus, 10/25/18.


President’s Message Regarding Vandalism on Campus, 10/25/18

Dear Drew community members,

Recently, several signs promoting Drew College Republican events were torn down or defaced. Actions like this have no place in our community and are incompatible with Drew University’s mission to educate a diverse community of learners who add to the world’s good by responding to the urgent issues of our time.

I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Student Government leadership and with College Republicans who invited me to their weekly meeting. At that meeting, the group also welcomed students who were members of College Democrats and students who identified as social democrats and as libertarians.

All agreed that in our community we must continue to encourage diverse viewpoints and that those viewpoints are essential for a liberal arts education. Understanding perspectives that are different from our own and defending the right for those perspectives to be expressed are crucial components of earning a Drew degree. Dialogue among individuals with different points of view is essential both on our campus and in a democracy.

These sentiments are perhaps more true now when there is a greater chasm between ideas and a polarization of viewpoints. It is imperative that we welcome exchange of ideas—a path clearly more constructive and effective than vandalism. I am proud that in our campus community we have students and other community members who are actively engaged in the political process and in supporting their ideals generally.

We know that these were not the only incidences of defacement this semester. Instances of disrespect like these must be called out as unacceptable in this community where all are welcome. Limiting expression—in this case political expression—is never the path to a thriving society or community. It is my sincere hope that these objectionable events create cause for reflection and an opportunity to recognize the power of dialogue as the better alternative.

I also express my appreciation to student leaders in the CLA, the Theological School, and the Caspersen School who clearly, steadfastly, and consistently approach these challenges with the goal of bettering our community.


MaryAnn Baenninger
Drew University