We are at a moment in history when the marketplace of ideas that we at California State University, Fullerton promote and protect through equity, inclusion, civil discourse, and peaceful protest has the power to heal and lead the nation.

Indeed, for 60 years, this institution has harnessed these tenets to foster a learning environment in which differing opinions from all walks of life and both sides of the political aisle are integral to our curriculum and central to our mission to prepare students to thrive in an increasingly complex and diverse global economy. These efforts begin by protecting freedom of speech and recognizing the fundamental reason that right is enshrined in our constitution: if it is taken from one, it can be taken from all. The right to criticize and disagree is integral to freedom and democracy.

The clarity of constitutional law notwithstanding, as educators serving over 40,000 diverse students from more than 90 countries, we cannot presume to know which voices do and do not add value to the marketplace of ideas — even when the ideas being espoused are derogatory, offensive, and counter the principles of diversity and inclusion we stand for.

What we can do is challenge voices that belittle our fellow Titans, respond to hate speech with civil discourse that illuminates the value of diversity and inclusivity, and contest intolerance with its truest and longest-standing cure: equitable access to higher education. And we must, above all else, ensure the physical safety of all Titans while supporting those who may be hurt, scared, or offended as our campus and nation grapples with complex, controversial, and emotional social and political issues.

Thank you for the important, transformational role you fulfill in this endeavor and for all that you do for Cal State Fullerton and everyone who calls it home.