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President's Message

March 24, 2003

As historic events unfold in Iraq and around the world, the University of New Mexico community will strive to deal constructively with the breadth, depth, and consequences of recent and breaking developments. As individuals within the UNM community -- students, faculty, staff -- each of us will deal with our own feelings about the situation. However, collectively, we comprise a University community that values a safe environment where diverse thoughts and ideas are not only tolerated but also encouraged. In the expression of those diverse thoughts and perspectives, there may very well be many that will be in conflict with our own personal beliefs, values and ideals. I ask all of the members of our UNM community to be mutually respectful and to be mindful of our rights of freedom of speech and assembly, regardless of our individual political and social beliefs. Let us do our utmost to keep our debate rational and our behavior peaceful.

All of us, whether or not we agree with each other's views, should do our utmost to look out for each other's safety and well being. This is a time in our history when it is important to be patient with each other and to be sensitive to the feelings people are experiencing and the reactions they are having. Some on our campus have personal and direct connections, such as family members or co-workers serving in the military or loved ones living in the Middle East. We need to remind ourselves to be especially sensitive of the feelings of these members of our campus community.

It is likely that some of the participants in these dialogues will not be members of our campus community. This is a public educational institution and an open campus. We ask that our UNM community members remind visitors to our campus that universities are special places that especially prize and protect freedom of speech, and in particular, the rational discussion of ideas and the freedom to assemble. It is important that these freedoms are expressed in ways that promote the educational process, preserve the resources of the campus and its facilities, and protect the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff.

I would further ask that all members of our UNM community view and treat these historic events as a learning experience -- an experience that encourages forums for discussion -- forums in which to consider and debate issues and express differing viewpoints in a safe environment. It is my hope that classes will meet, that education will continue and that civil and tolerant conduct will prevail. It is my strong hope that some good emerge from this period of tension.

Thank you.

F. Chris Garcia,


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