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Message from President Sullivan on Civility

June 21, 2012

To members of the University community:

Vigorous debate is one of the hallmarks of our university, and indeed of our nation. Freedom of speech is one of the great gifts ensured to us by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other Founders of the Republic.

Civility is also an important hallmark of our university. Our faculty and students distinguish themselves by their ability to make a reasoned argument without resort to crude, vulgar, or abusive language. I know that emotions are running high on Grounds, but there is no excuse for abusing anyone with whom you disagree. Let me say in particular that Carl Zeithaml has been an exemplary member of the University community, and he and his family in no way deserve abusive language. The Board of Visitors is made up of dedicated volunteers, and abusive behavior toward them or anyone else is destructive of our community's values.

The defacing of the Rotunda goes beyond free speech into vandalism. The Rotunda needs our careful attention to restore it, not to carry graffiti for any side in any debate.

Teresa A. Sullivan, President