My fellow Billikens, we have work to do. When the Oath of Inclusion was created, it was not to show our campus as it existed, but rather as it could and should exist. After a series of bias incidents, students came together in aspiration. They were fed up with the targeting of their classmates and themselves based on identity. They refused to ignore voices telling our students they and we don’t belong here. We are a diverse community with many perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, and identities and we must find a way to build an inclusive campus for all of us.
Efforts of inclusion aren’t necessary only when a bigot yells a slur at a minority or when someone is physically assaulted for who they love or how they worship. Inclusion must be a constant effort, every day, in every space. We must ask ourselves the hard questions and come to terms with our own privileges. The Oath of Inclusion was suspended because we, as students, have failed to do this.
If we truly strive for the aspirational community described in the oath, then we must reclaim it as individuals. We must reclaim it in the classroom, and in our apartments and dorm rooms. We must reclaim it on the quad and in college church and in the library. We must reclaim it day and night, on campus and off. We must both prevent the negative effects of bigotry and proactively engage in exploration of difference. We, of course, are tasked with the protection of one another, but we also must, “challenge our worldview” to “enrich the culture of our university.” To those we have failed, I apologize on my own behalf and for those who haven’t done everything in our power to ensure this campus is your home as much as it is ours. To those that have failed along with me, I urge you to reflect upon that failure and ask what’s next. If you are committed to reclaiming the oath, then you must ask yourself several questions about your effort to live it.
What did I do yesterday? What have I done today? What will I do tomorrow?