Following the message painted on the Free Expression Boards last week, Meredith College President Jo Allen sent an email to students on Tuesday, Feb. 7. In this email, President Allen stated she was spending time in Washington DC learning and “advocating for higher education.” However, President Allen sent a separate email to Meredith employees where she also mentioned the message on the Free Expression boards.
While President Allen’s email to students did not directly address the messaging on the Free Expression boards, she said, “While we might not always agree on the outcome, we always uphold truths of respect and human dignity. Standing on these principles we will become an even stronger Meredith College.”
Since many students were confused about the topics addressed in the email, Kristi Eaves-McLennan, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications, told The Herald that President Allen’s message was not directly in reference to the Free Expression boards.
On Friday, Feb. 10, The Herald was informed that President Allen had sent a separate email to faculty and staff addressing the message on the Free Expression boards. In this email, President Allen said, “Like many of you, I was made aware of a message painted on student boards earlier this week and understand that it has sparked conversation and debate around campus.”
President Allen continued on by saying, “First and foremost, we believe in the value of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, even though we may not like what was said or what was written. We do this work because we believe in our students and the power of higher education, and if we want our students to go out into the world as courageous leaders, that education starts here.”
The Herald contacted President Allen and Eaves-McLennan for more information on why two separate emails were sent out. Dr. Allen’s issued the following statement:
“Last week, I sent a message to students sharing my experience in Washington, D.C., advocating for higher education issues that are important to Meredith College. Later in the week, a separate message, which referenced advocacy efforts for the student event board posts, was shared with employees. This message was meant to update employees and help faculty and staff have as much information as we did about the event board posts.”
Below is the email sent out to Meredith employees:
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Earlier this week, I shared a note with our students about the power of relationships, advocacy, and civility in our discourse. Being in Washington, DC with other higher education leaders to advocate on behalf of access and affordability is something that I am privileged to do on behalf of our students. The message included a reminder of email@example.com, established in 2011, where students can write to share their concerns with ELT.
Like many of you, I was made aware of a message painted on student event boards earlier this week and understand that it has sparked conversation and debate around campus. I understand that the message may have been distressing to some on campus.
First and foremost, we believe in the value of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, even though we may not like what was said or written. We do this work because we believe in our students and the value of higher education, and if we want our students to go out into the world as courageous leaders, that education starts here. I also know, as I was reminded this week in Washington, that the exchange of ideas in respectful ways is what best moves us forward.
We continue to work on making Meredith a positive experience and appreciate faculty and staff supporting students and the processes we have to follow. I am excited about the direction the College is going with a new strategic planning process underway, strong student retention, new and enhanced facilities, and substantial financial support from donors.
As we celebrate the College's 132nd birthday later this month, I want to thank you for all of your contributions to our community. It's your tireless work that is helping Meredith to continue to thrive.
All the best…..
By Haileigh West, Opinion Editor