Chancellor statement in support of veterans

Dear Campus Community:

I write this morning in response to a flyer posted yesterday on the UCCS campus by a non-UCCS group. The flyer references veterans studying at institutions of higher education.  UCCS does not endorse and vigorously rejects the offensive viewpoints expressed in the flyer.

This flyer stands at the intersection of two core values for UCCS and higher education.

On the one hand, we recognize the right of people to express their viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are offensive to many in our community. The University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment.

In doing so, we draw guidance from the words of the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters is within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is a matter of public concern, even though it is racist or sexist, it “cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt” and we “must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate ‘breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.” I reject the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others, as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.

On the other hand, respect for the right of someone to speak should never be taken as endorsing the viewpoints that someone has expressed. The viewpoints that the authors express are against the law. UCCS does not discriminate against veterans. But even more fundamentally, UCCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, creed, veteran status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or political philosophy. People earn the right to study at UCCS by virtue of hard work and individual effort, and we do not bar the door.

Beyond the fact that the authors’ position is illegal, it is also wrong. We ascribe to The Board of Regents’ Guiding Principle that the University of Colorado shall always strive to “provide an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching, and working environment.” Veterans are positive and valued members of our academic and campus community. They bring experience and viewpoints that enrich our discussions.

So do many others. We have learned over time that higher education thrives when many voices join in the conversation. Just as I disagree with anyone who says that we should refuse a UCCS education to someone who ascribes to a religious faith, I disagree with anyone who says that we should refuse veterans a UCCS education.

We recognize the pain caused to many in our community. Consequently, I call upon the UCCS community to recognize the value of free and open discourse, while simultaneously standing firm in the inclusive values of our diverse community. If concerns exist about safe expression of ideas, our faculty and staff work diligently and are available to bridge gaps between disparate viewpoints.

We know our student veterans to be high achieving individuals with diverse viewpoints and values, and all of us are enriched by and fortunate to have the military community represented in our classrooms and campus spaces.

Respectfully,

Venkat Reddy, Chancellor

 

8 Comments on Chancellor statement in support of veterans

  1. Out of everything being seen on campuses around the nation in past years I have to say as a veteran myself thank you! This is by far one of the best responses I’ve seen to a situation. As a veteran I believe I speak for us that we know all about freedom of speech for it is a reason we signed to serve and we believe everyone has a right to a platform no matter how offensive to someone. But I thank you for expressing your views and not being like so many other institutions we see taking sides but rather you stay neutral to insure rights of every student again thank you

  2. Mr. Reddy I applaud you for your support free speech, tolerance, and recognition of the contradictions of diversity and veterans.
    These days people do not recognize the melting pot that is our military. Members of all branches don’t care about anything other than can I depend on the person to my right and left to do their job to the best of their ability even up to laying down their life. Though I feel our volunteer military is the absolute best in the world, our society has lost the perspective that it can only get by having a military that includes conscripts. That is why we have such off the wall prejudice of our veterans. To suggest that our veterans do not belong in a higher education setting is absolutely unnerving. It seems to me that the author of this “news letter” feels that the leadership veterans demonstrate both in the classroom and community is somehow dangerous and needs to be squashed.
    Your response is right on the money and is the perfect example of what higher education should be.

  3. Sir, thank you for your response and for supporting all sides of this issue. You have reaffirmed my faith in your university.

  4. Dear Chancellor Reddy,

    Good for you. Citing Snyder v Phelps is both appropriate and brave.

    The young man has a right to speak.

    That said, the author could use some remedial writing classes.

    Is the author a student at UCCS? The grammar in this “work” is so poor that it is painful to read. If the author is a student of yours one would hope he is an incoming freshman. The writing skills displayed in this flyer are more unpleasant than the asinine thesis.

    I’d like to remind any veterans who might be struggling with the issue that you can be proud. Hold your heads high! You took an oath to support and defend. Very few of us can claim the honor of having defended under a contract for “up to and including our lives,” the very freedom that now offends us.

    Voltaire comes to mind:

    “I disapprove of What you say, but I will defend to the death Your Right to Say It.”

    Your Chancellor is right on this one. Once you start to ban and punish people for speech/ expression, who decides?

    Very respectfully,

    Howard Carter

  5. As an American veteran long past his Military days I’d like to thank Mr Venkat Reddy for his wise response to the popular rhetoric of the radical leftists mob mentality and allowed these people being singled out for discriminated against. It’s reassuring rational thought still reigns is our Universities. I salute you Sir!

  6. I am ashamed of you,your faculty and any other person that had ANYTHING to do with approving of the flyer that was posted. You approved it thinking there would be no backlash.WELL IM HERE TO TELL YOU THIS VETERAN IS TIRED OF PLACES LIKE THIS PUTTING IN THEIR 2CENTS BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY KNOW WHAT IS GOOD FOR OTHERS>Why cant you just stick to education and stay clear of poitics? I hope it bites you and the school right where the sun doesn;t shine.

  7. Many of my family members and friends have been or are currently in the military. This recent flyer discriminating against veterans (who in case you forgot, many have died for you and your students to sit comfortably in a classroom believing and saying what you do, no matter how ridiculous it may be) is something your student obviously hasn’t been educated about, or if he/she has they are ungrateful and a spoiled brat. You approved the veteran discrimination flyer??? Yes or No? Would you approve a flyer for another form of hate, say Black Panther’s or Neo-Nazi’s? I mean you say you don’t suppress speech there at your college, so those who hold extreme views can now express their opinions too, correct because your brand of hate isn’t any better than someone else’s brand of hate right? My guess would be “NO”, but you defend freedom of speech right, even if you disagree??? Yeah sure you do, as long as it’s not hate from your point of view. Apparently your college needs a quick course on how to get back into the business of actually teaching! Better yet teach your students why they have any freedoms at all, and who fights for them! Maybe they will show some respect for our veterans and our country if they actually learn something. If they don’t like veterans, freedom of speech, our country, right views, etc. and can’t figure out how to deal with not feeling “warm and fuzzy” all the time then they are not adults, nor mature enough to be in college! If they can’t deal with the fact that no matter who you are, or where you come from people are not always nice and perfect and often that is just in general it’s not all about politics, race, etc. human beings are sometimes just not nice because that is who they are irregardless of what race, gender, sexual orientation, political views, age, sex, etc.! People won’t always agree nor cater to each other. Teach them how to move to a foreign country where they can see what it’s like without a little sheltered safe space and have them write a flyer about their views on veterans to post around your school, after they experience some real life struggles. These students are not little kids that are so fragile that they can’t deal with life, unless someones taught them to be that way, which apparently is the case at your college. Teach your fragile students how to deal with life instead of cuddling them. Creating self sufficient adults who contribute something positive to society instead of whining and crying because someone doesn’t see things their way! This student who wrote that flyer or group of students who wrote it, are lumping all veterans as racist or right, if they don’t agree with their views, that’s just stupidity at it’s finest. Send your student copies of all the attention and love your school gets for your support their ridiculous clearly uneducated assertions, so they can learn cause and effect while you are at it. I can only hope now that this information is circulating all over social media, that your school gets recognized for it’s “contribution” of well taught tolerant children. My daughter is in college and if she was going to your school, I would pull her right out of there in a heartbeat so that she could attend a school where she learned something other than complaining and whining and expecting to only have her views allowed, but better yet I have taught her enough that my guess would be she would remove herself from a place where education isn’t first. I for one am glad your student wrote this flyer and that you approved it for posting, because they do have a right to free speech, and they have a right to learn how their speech affects others, and they have a right to hear opposing views, they also have the right to learn the effect and damage their speech may cause for them and their school. This very freedom of speech informs me of so much about the student and your school, so without it I would have never known what goes on there, thanks!

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