Fiat Climbing a Mountain with No Top

At the Friday night dinner marking the conclusion of our fall meeting of the Alfred University Board of Trustees, we celebrated Common Ground (see the op-ed from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle), the program we piloted this fall for all incoming undergraduate students, first-years and transfers, on our main campus.

The thoughtful comments from three students who spoke about their experiences in the Common Ground program underscored the value of what we are trying to do—come to an understanding of what makes each of us different, and what brings us together. It is not to arrive at a homogeneity of thought, but to explore the things that can bring us together, to that Common Ground, if you will.

Then came Saturday, and the killing of 11 people worshipping in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The shooting closed out a week marred by bigotry and violence in other locations such as Louisville, Kentucky and the threat created by pipe bombs sent in the mail to various prominent individuals and organizations around the country.

This email is not about religion, or politics, or race, but how we, as parents, as educators, as students, and as residents/citizens of the United States need to find solutions that do not further divide us, but unite us. We fail as parents, educators, citizens, and as a society when we do not teach our children to appreciate and respect the richness and varied texture of thoughts, races, religions, and culture found in humankind.

We have had our own institutional stumbles in the past, and we will no doubt have them in the future. We also realize that in launching Common Ground we are setting our sights on climbing a mountain that has no top. We are committed to making that traverse and believe in the fundamental value of doing so for our students, our institution, and the broader world.

Fiat Lux!