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Free Speech Website Lunch

Dear Campus Community,


Thank you for making UC Merced’s inaugural Free Speech Week a huge success. Our journey this week began discussing hate speech and free speech with Dr. Jenny Lambe, our UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement 2020-2021 fellow. Some highlights:


·     Our keynote speaker President Lori S. White from DePauw University walked us through how to lead with our values and the twin values of equity, diversity and inclusion, and freedom of expression. 

·     Deans Grady & Kello shared their expertise on navigating humanity and academic freedom through their roles as Dean of Students and Dean of the Graduate Division, respectively. 

·     Our Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Camfield shared his remarks on how higher education has failed to teach critical thinking in public discourse while PEN America walked us through free speech as a human right in local and global contexts as well as its impacts on everyday life. 

·     We ended Thursday night with a panel of students and administrators moderated by the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement Executive Director, Michelle Deutchman that gave us firsthand approaches and experiences in using our voices to build community. 


And, of course, ending each journey with tools, resources, learning and our exciting wheel of fortune book giveaway for participants, "Caste, the Origins of our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson. Wow, what a week, right? And it’s not quite over yet. We developed this week with the intention of empowering our UC Merced campus community and facilitating a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding freedom of expression, equity and diversity within and beyond higher education. We hope we have delivered on that intention and provided the tools and resources for all of us to engage in these dialogues that matter and lead with our core values and love.


Today, we close the week with the launch of the UC Merced Free Speech website which was developed in collaboration with members of the Office of Legal Affairs. This website contains helpful resources and information—including a FAQ section—associated with the topic of free speech. We highly encourage everyone to explore this website at their leisure.


We also encourage our campus community to continue embodying our UC Merced Principles of Community as we champion dialogues that matter. We hope that the information discussed this week serves as seeds planted for continued discourse and that the tools and resources shared will continue to serve you. Recordings of the virtual events this week as well as the resources shared in each session and our follow-up emails will be available on our Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Free Speech Website no later than Monday so check back next week.


I’d like to send a special thank you to Maria Ramirez Loyola, one of our graduate student researchers in the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, who served as the lead on this initiative and helped us make it the success that it was and the entire team that all pitched in collaboration. I’d also like to thank all of you for your participation and engagement. You brought your ideas, concerns, critical thinking and made the week all the better for it! 


Thank you all so much for being in commUNITY with us this week and always!


Dania Matos

Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer

Pronouns: She/Her/Ella