6-5-20 Statement to Community

June 5, 2020

Dear Miami University friends and colleagues:

Last night and this morning, we received multiple reports that Douglas Brooks, a retired Miami University faculty member made vile, hurtful, and inflammatory remarks to a group of peaceful protesters in Oxford. I personally find it inconceivable that in 2020, fifty years after we as a nation committed to building a more just and equitable society, anyone could still hold views so deeply hateful and ignorant. Yet everyday individuals within our society choose to express hate and bigotry openly and proudly. It is evident we have much work to do.

Miami University is built on a foundation of clearly articulated values, including a deep commitment to respect for others and inclusivity. We demand tolerance and respect in the workplace and in the classroom, and if anyone had acted as reported while executing their duties in the classroom or in the workplace, we would be able to address those actions with due process according to our policies.

However, all faculty, staff, and students have the right to express their personal views under the First Amendment. The same right that gives us the ability to speak out against injustice and racism gives others the right to express repugnant personal views. All of us are free to condemn views that we find objectionable, and to do so as directly and publicly as we desire. I thank each of you for publicly and privately sharing your views, concerns, and outrage with me. I am with you. Let me take this opportunity to publicly and clearly denounce all expressions of bigotry and hatred. These are directly in conflict with the values Miamians hold dear. I find it particularly troubling when these bigoted statements come from one entrusted with educating our incredible students. But Miami University cannot and will not violate the Constitution of the United States.

We have spoken to Dr. Brooks and he denies the allegations. Despite that, because he is teaching a class this summer, we will provide students the opportunity to complete their course with another professor. We will continue to take all appropriate steps needed to protect our students and colleagues from bigoted actions, but let me clearly state that no student, staff, or faculty member can be dismissed or punished for expressing their individual constitutional rights. 

As we navigate this troubled and challenging time, know that we are working every day to plan for the future, to make things better where possible, and to lift each other up as often as we can.  

Be well, and stay safe.
Jason Osborne