Unite Against Hate: A Statement from President Kesselman

Dear Stockton community,

During the past several months, unthinkable tragedies, controversial executive orders, and provocative protests have stirred the emotions of our country. Collectively, we have been forced to confront the boundaries of our freedoms:  is it freedom of speech or hate speech; freedom of the press or “fake news,” peaceful assembly or domestic terrorist rallies. 

In the wake of Constitution Day, I am reminded that freedom of speech and civil dialogue are among the most sacred rights in our country. Since its founding, Stockton University has always promoted civic learning and has fostered an environment that values civil debate, critical thinking, and multiple points of view. 

Unfortunately, under the umbrella of freedom of speech, there are some who choose to spew out words of hate and bigotry, violence and belligerence, fear and oppression, with the sole purpose of denigrating those who do not look like them, sound like them, act like them, or believe like them. 

But let me be clear, Stockton strongly denounces the actions and beliefs of those behind the hate propaganda, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, and other hate groups. 

For those who choose to disseminate messages of hatred, bigotry, and racism at Stockton, I say these words…Not on this campus; not at our University.  

The Stockton community is unified in our loud and clear denunciation of such hate speech, and I want to personally reaffirm our commitment to providing an environment where all students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public feel welcomed and supported.  

Whether our opinions differ or we share the same sentiments, at Stockton, we encourage the conversations.  We appreciate the civil discourse and do not avoid uncomfortable topics or sensitive discussions simply because we don’t agree.  We recognize that cultivating meaningful conversations can lead to better understanding of each other and various points of view.  And we welcome opportunities to engage in civil dialogue and civil debate, as we exercise our first amendment rights.

This week began with the unauthorized and illegal distribution of white supremacist flyers, but it will end with a Student Senate sponsored rally - Unite Against Hate - and this represents the very best of Stockton University.  I could not be more proud of the Stockton community as we band together in solidarity, in support of our values and appreciation of our diversity. Our collective strength as a University will help us overcome those who try to divide our community.

This is the Stockton way!

Best regards,

Harvey Kesselman
Stockton University