Nebraska Wesleyan president issues letter affirming diversity


Fred Ohles, president of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, has issued the following letter to students, faculty and staff at the United Methodist-affiliated institution.
His letter appears in its entirety.

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty Colleagues,

Nebraska Wesleyan University aspires to be a diverse and inclusive academic community. Ours is a community that includes immigrants and guests to the United States from around the world. It is a community that encourages our students and our professors to study abroad, where we learn that there are other honorable and valuable ways of life than just our ways. Our campus is a place to embrace the differences among us of perspective, faith, and national origin.

As Nebraska Wesleyan’s president, I am proud of the many humane and caring bonds that our students, faculty, and staff have formed with refugees in Lincoln, Nebraska. Among those refugees are people who have fled tyranny, oppression, and religious intolerance in countries all over the globe, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Building these sorts of community bonds among diverse people furthers the intellectual and personal growth of Nebraska Wesleyan students, who will all live and work in a complex global society.

All of us at Nebraska Wesleyan can and should affirm the importance of effective visa, refugee, and international travel protocols for the United States, as a way to undergird our national security, within the framework of rights and responsibilities provided by our Constitution and laws. At the same time, I believe that we have an obligation to speak out when official actions are at odds with Nebraska Wesleyan’s values and purpose.

In the context of our commitments at Nebraska Wesleyan University to global education, academic community, inclusion, and religious tolerance, I am much troubled by the sweeping action of the United States government’s executive branch last week regarding entry into the United States by citizens of seven nations. Many public figures from a wide variety of political positions have spoken out against excess in this matter. Let us hope that reason and mercy, in appropriate balance, will prevail.

In my leadership role I view it as my obligation to ensure that our campus continues to be a community where diverse religions, opinions, and backgrounds are respected and celebrated, where global perspective is prized, and where we embrace Lincoln, Nebraska’s distinctive status as a destination for refugees who yearn to become Americans. I encourage every one of you here at Nebraska Wesleyan to think deeply about these matters and to share your perspectives on them. Because we are an academic community with such strong, humane values, we have the opportunity to model civil discourse on something of such importance to all Americans.

Yours truly,

Fred Ohles
Nebraska Wesleyan University

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