Dear TU community,
As we approach the midpoint of the semester, I am so grateful for the TU community’s resilience and teamwork that have paved the way for such a successful and safe semester so far. The exceedingly high level of cooperation and regard for others I’ve seen across campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, with everyone working together to adjust to and follow new protocols and procedures, is heartwarming. Our community has acted responsibly, and I commend you for the respect and support you have given and continue to display for each other. As a result, we are still here on campus and going strong!
Our immediate challenge is to keep the trend going. Partying, abandoning public health protocols and other risky behavior can easily turn exuberance into embarrassment or tragedy. Even though Homecoming 2020 is very different from previous years, this weekend is a time for celebration and fun – but let’s take care to keep it that way for everyone.
I also have high expectations that we will continue to display the same level of thoughtfulness for others as we move into the height of a turbulent political season. This is an anxious time for our community and for so many in our country. We are witnessing a national election featuring bitter debates and deep divides, all at the time our country needs to truly come together to tackle racial injustices, economic hardship and the impact of this pandemic, which has exacerbated these systemic challenges.
Coming together does not mean we must agree, but we should recognize the broad impact our words and our conduct can have on others. I am appealing to everyone at TU to pause and reflect. The stress of coursework and other pressures combined with concerns about our society and our democracy all can influence our better judgment. We should give each other grace, even when our beliefs don’t always align, and treat each other with dignity.
A university should be an open space for the free exchange of ideas. TU is a special place where people can feel safe to express their opinions and engage in civil discourse, challenge each other’s ideas and remain respectful. I expect us to continue that tradition this political season.
To support that effort, Student Affairs is creating many opportunities to engage and discuss important and topical issues. You can find more information on these activities on TU’s events calendar, so please check there often for updates and follow the university on social media.
You can also engage with me directly in one of my weekly virtual coffee hours. For students, we gather and talk each Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. To ensure we have a good conversation with participation from everyone, each coffee hour is limited to six students. To join, simply sign up at utulsa.edu/president-meetings. Faculty and staff can sign up for a virtual morning coffee chat here.
I also encourage every member of the TU community to participate in what is our most important civic duty: voting. Become informed about the candidates and the issues, cast your ballot and uphold the democratic process. As a reminder, all TU staff members are allowed up to four hours away from work on Election Day to accommodate waits at the polls.
In these turbulent times, I am confident TU will be a model of civic engagement and civil debate. When you join the TU community, you become part of something bigger than yourself. Your kind demonstration of dignity and respect – in word and deed – as you engage with others will set a positive example for us all.
Janet K. Levit