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Full text of Frohnmayer’s letter

As I previously wrote, President Frohnmayer recently issued a letter where he addressed, as he called it, the “gutter bigotry” of the Pacifica Forum. Here’s the full text pertaining to the PF:

In moving forward, there will always be a diversity of opinion about our approaches to equity by constituencies both on and off our campus. Our efforts benefit from continued open and honest engagement in these differing perspectives. Yet, even as we talk about our different perspectives, we must remain committed to advancing these efforts.

Even as we make notable progress, there have been challenges to the inclusiveness of the community we attempt to create here. Just last term, a student writer for the Oregon Daily Emerald was the subject of a viciously personal anti-Semitic posting for expressing her journalistic views on American foreign policy. In another incident, a group meeting on campus, in an unabashedly racist manner, mocked efforts by others to honor contributions by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And, finally, larger issues of First Amendment freedom of expression were raised once again by the Pacifica Forum, an outside group that holds its meetings from time to time on campus, and which hosted as a speaker the person who targeted the Emerald writer. These incidents occur in a larger landscape of our diversity efforts I described above. Some might counsel against revisiting in this letter those issues which still touch raw nerve ends. My own feeling is that these subjects are better expressed — even if there is risk of error or mischaracterization on my part — than left to fester silently or to create doubt as to our central values.

The first incident I hope can be addressed with summary censure of the kind of gutter bigotry with which the writer to an Emerald blog filled his diatribe. The second and third incidents deserve the same summary condemnation. Most important, we cannot forget that we regard such events as isolated incidents only at our peril. Common to all of these incidents is a stunning lack of self-awareness and, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, lack of “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.” We should remind ourselves that religious and ethnic hatred assumes many self-righteous masks. There will always be tension between the rights of individuals to express their views no matter how repulsive or hateful and the responsibility we feel to build a community that is welcoming and safe to all. One thing however is clear. Groups such as this that use university facilities from time to time do not speak for the University of Oregon. Nor does the appearance of any invited speaker or the use of our facilities imply the institution’s endorsement, support, or even its moral indifference to the content of a message.

  1. […] Friday, the Pacifica Forum met to discuss President Frohnmayer’s recent letter denouncing the forum and one of its more notable members, Valdas Anelauskas. PF founder Orval Etter […]

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