From the Desk: 'This is a place where we have an open mind, where we denounce hate'

Being on a college campus, the beginning of the fall semester is a golden opportunity for all students, faculty and staff to recommit to further developing ourselves personally and professionally. It's also a time to think critically about issues that are affecting us all as a community and a society. We shouldn't miss that opportunity but instead avail ourselves of all of the resources we have available for learning, engagement and dialogue.

Despite the fact that there are people in our society who have a mindset centered on hate, this is a place where we have an open mind, where we denounce hate and where we come together to work toward a more inclusive campus community. While we also affirm everyone's right to freedom of speech, at the very same time, we denounce those messages that are contrary to the very core values that make us the great institution that we are.

My colleagues and I wish everyone a great year -- not just academically, but also in terms of social awareness and advocacy. We are all proud to be part of Indiana University, a place where our core values are intact and everyone is included and can thrive.

I invite you to take advantage of all of the services provided at IU Bloomington, including those offered by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. Between the support and programming that can be found in the office's academic support programs and cultural centers, there are tremendous opportunities for all of us to meet people from all backgrounds and learn more about the different identities, cultures and heritages represented on this campus.

We should all take great pride in contributing to IU Bloomington being recognized nationally for its diversity and inclusion with such recent honors as a 2017 Institutional Excellence Award by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, a 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award by Insight Into Diversity magazine and being named to Campus Pride's 2016 "Best of the Best" list of top-30 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.

Whether it's participating in an event that celebrates the beginning of the new semester, attending a lecture on a subject you're curious about, receiving tutoring for a challenging course, seeking out a mentor or meeting peers who can share diverse perspectives, I encourage everyone to explore the remarkable environment we're fortunate to enjoy here.

By even briefly stepping outside our personal comfort zones and embracing each other's differences, we can come together to further strengthen our Hoosier community. This university has long been committed to fostering an atmosphere where, regardless of one's socioeconomic status, gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity or religion, people of all backgrounds are inspired to do, as former IU President Herman B Wells famously said, "their best work."

As we embark upon the 2017-18 academic year at IU Bloomington, I'm truly excited about all of the possibilities that lie before us. Let's work toward our community of scholars continuing to progress and flourish academically, professionally, and socially as an entire campus.

James Wimbush is vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs; dean of The University Graduate School; and Johnson Professor for Diversity and Leadership.