To the Duke community,
It has now been more than a week since the horrific Hamas terror attacks in Israel. In that time, thousands of innocent Israeli and Palestinian people have lost their lives, and thousands more have suffered terrible injuries. As we confront the escalating violence, I know that many in our Duke community are hurting.
I wrote to you last week as we were shocked and saddened by the staggering loss of life. Since then, I’ve heard from many students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents throughout our Duke community: Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Israeli, Palestinian, with roots in the region or not. Our Duke community, mirroring the worldwide community, is in pain.
While there is perhaps little we can do to affect the course of this terrible conflict, we must do all we can to ensure that it does not erode our own commitment to community at Duke or lead us to negate our shared humanity. We should not allow divisiveness to undercut our capacity as an educational community for respectful and compassionate learning together, even—and especially—in these trying times.
With this in mind, I encourage each of us to consider ways we can, in moments of often intense and passionate disagreement, preserve our shared values of respect and inclusion, and foster debate and deliberation leavened with goodwill and understanding. As an institution of higher learning, we value wide freedom of expression for those in our campus community. With that freedom comes the responsibility to foster scholarly discourse, and not descend into polemics, personal attacks, or antisemitic or anti-Muslim rhetoric. We must ensure ideas are discussed and debated in a way that advances knowledge, rather than obscures or impedes it.
As an academic community, we have the opportunity and the obligation to demonstrate, to ourselves and the world, the power of being guided by our educational values and working to ensure Duke is a place where everyone feels deeply valued and included.
Should you have concerns about your ability to openly express your beliefs and opinions, or be in need of other forms of support at this time, I would urge you to contact Duke resource providers who are here to provide guidance and assistance.
I am proud to be part of this extraordinary community of learners and scholars. I ask that you please support each other and join me in committing to engage across differences with compassion, respect, and a genuine willingness to hear others’ perspectives.
Vincent E. Price
President, Duke University