University of Illinois President Robert Easter and Trustees Chair Chris Kennedy have weighed in on this week’s verbal abuse on social media against the Urbana campus chancellor.
The two U of I leaders say actions and words of some students have ‘brought disgrace to the institution.’ The messages posted to Twitter attacked Chancellor Phyllis Wise with racist and sexist comments after she announced Sunday that Monday classes would be held despite chilly temperatures.
The joint statement e-mailed across campus Wednesday by Easter and Kennedy says the comments have put the U of I in the national spotlight for the ‘worst possible reasons.’ The two say the U of I now has an obligation to use this ‘unfortunate series of events’ as a teachable moment… that no one is entitled to attend the U of I, and every student should think of it as a privilege. Easter and Kennedy say students are admitted because they think they have the potential to contribute towards molding our state and country. They say the U of I embraces an open dialogue, with places for it, like Board of Trustees meetings… but the personal attacks ‘have no place in our community’. Their expectation is that ‘we all engage in civil discourse in our treatment of others.’