The following is a message from ETSU President Brian Noland to students, faculty and staff on February 25, 2021.
Dear ETSU community,
As I reflect upon the events of the past week, I am struck by the intensity of emotion surrounding our student-led efforts to call awareness to issues of social justice and structural inequities in our nation. This past week, I have spent time gaining a deeper understanding by listening to our faculty, staff, and students, learning from their perspectives. I have also been engaged in similar conversations with community leaders, alumni, and our legislative delegation in an effort to listen and learn.
These conversations have affirmed the importance of our institutional values, which declare that people come first and are treated with dignity and respect. As president, I have a responsibility to protect both those values and the people of this institution. I am dismayed by the intensity of attacks towards our students. These attacks are unacceptable.
I recognize the feelings of hurt, anger, and neglect that many in our community are experiencing. The flag and our national anthem are revered in our society. I deeply love our country and have profound respect for our veterans. I also recognize the pain and angst experienced by so many, particularly members of our African American community, who have witnessed firsthand the consequences of social injustice and structural inequities across our country.
While there are strong opinions across the spectrum, supporting students is our foremost responsibility as an institution. Regardless of your position on our students’ decision to kneel for the national anthem, we are all members of the ETSU community and must support one another.
I hope in the days ahead that we can come together and have difficult conversations in a meaningful, civil, open and honest way. Our students deserve our support, and I look forward to engaging in this important dialogue with you.