A message from President Nathan Hatch to the Wake Forest Community.
Last February, Melvin Washington (’14) delivered a senior oration titled, “Who is Wake Forest?” During Melvin’s provocative remarks about the power of diversity he said, “I walk past the same majestic chapel, wait in the same long lines at Subway, take some of the same classes, and in May I’ll cross the same stage, but our Wake Forests are different. Our Wake Forests are different because our experiences are different. Our experiences are different because we’re all different people. However, there is beauty in that difference and its intersections where we all consider ourselves Deacs.”
Over the past several weeks, students from different races and backgrounds have united under the banner of “Forward Together” to demand action and accountability for a Wake Forest that will stand together, in the intersections of our different experiences, and proclaim that racism, bias and cultural insensitivities will not be accepted as part of the Wake Forest experience.
As students took to social media, raw emotion, aggression and defensiveness drowned out the mutual desire for justice, inclusion and equity. Emotion is a sign we care. We care about issues of identity and race and about being understood. All of us – faculty, staff, students and administrators – care.
All of us came to Wake Forest to learn. We pride ourselves on educating the whole person and extending learning beyond the classroom. Now is the time to put our holistic approach to education to the test.
I encourage you to learn from each other. Avoid the anonymity of social media for the weekend and talk to someone with a Wake Forest experience different from your own – face to face. Take the time to read the action steps currently being implemented by University Police and Campus Life, distributed yesterday by Vice President Penny Rue. Embrace the opportunities to live in the intersection of our differences.
Wake Forest will be better for your efforts.