We watched atrocious acts of hate and violence unfold on the campus of a peer institution, the University of Virginia in 2017. Our lab members stand in unwavering support of calls across universities, our nation, and worldwide for respect, equality, and inclusion. This is vital to our integrity as an academic institution and as a society. Every student, faculty member, staff, and affiliate of the University has the right to an equitable, respectful, peaceful, and intellectually supportive environment. UGA President Jere Morehead affirmed our community’s commitment to those principles. Thank you, President Morehead.
|From President Morehead’s August 17, 2017 Memo to the UGA Community:”While these [official UGA anti-discrimination] statements meet our legal and regulatory obligations, they go beyond these requirements and reflect our institutional commitment to preventing harassing and discriminatory acts within our University community. This commitment requires each of us to join in this effort to ensure that we all work, study, and live in a fair and respectful campus environment.”|
Our lab is strongly committed to the core principles of inclusivity and respect for diversity that are clearly espoused in our university’s policies. Universities are intellectual communities with global citizenship, and the work we do is enriched by the diversity of backgrounds, identities, beliefs, and life stories that every one of our members brings. It is vitally important to our academic and service missions to ensure that the environment and opportunities are equally supportive and accessible to all members of that community, regardless of who they are.
|Our university prohibits “discrimination against any person because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status.” Further, “Prohibited bias factors will not be permitted to have an adverse influence upon decisions regarding students, employees, applicants for admission, applicants for employment, contractors, or volunteers or participants in or users of institutional programs, services, and activities.” (UGA EOO)|
Diversity and inclusivity are not only important from an ethical perspective, but the are also widely recognized to facilitate and enrich the production of knowledge. As we seek to understand and address complex sustainability challenges, diversity and inclusivity stimulate greater collaborative creativity, new insights, and a pluralistic integration of many viewpoints on issues — all of which strengthen our science and decision-making.