Thoughts on the Opening of the Academic Year

Dear Knox Community,

We start this new academic year burdened by current events that affect us all. In Charlottesville, we witnessed white supremacist violence and hatred. Changes in federal policy threaten to erode hard-won gains of Dreamers, transgender people, and survivors of sexual violence. Acts of terrorism and human rights violations continue around the world. Millions are imperiled by natural disasters across the planet, and famine stalks millions more.

In the face of these events, we call on every Knox community member to uphold our mission and values. We all share the responsibility for creating a culture of respect that affirms and protects the dignity and rights of every human being, regardless of their identities and locations on the planet. In our classrooms, offices, living spaces, playing fields, and performance spaces, let us all:

Challenge ourselves to create a place where diversity is accompanied by respect, inclusion, and full and equitable participation in every educational opportunity.

Recognize that we may benefit from privilege because of aspects of our identity such as our race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, background, beliefs, or ability.

Build bridges across difference, listen respectfully to voices with which we disagree, and transform ourselves so that society, in turn, may be transformed.

Take action for social and political change by advocating for the causes you believe in, standing with those you care about, and letting your voice be heard.

Tensions will inevitably arise in a remarkably diverse environment like ours. The privileges afforded to many of us are often hard to acknowledge, much less relinquish. And speech with which we disagree can be difficult to hear. These are the critical challenges of our educational mission, and so we ask that all of us at Knox—students, faculty, and staff alike—help ensure that this College is a truly inclusive and equitable community, one that welcomes disagreement, dialogue, and debate, but has no tolerance for hatred, intimidation, or violence.

While Knox has a storied history, one rooted in the ideals of our founders who spoke out against slavery and aspired to make higher education accessible to all, let us honor this history by holding ourselves and each other accountable for our actions in this present moment. This is the work of moral leadership to which we invite you.


Teresa L. Amott, President

Michael A. Schneider, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs

Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development

P.S. As we greet both new and familiar faces to Knox in the coming weeks, please take a moment to check in with each other and reach out to those who have been impacted by recent events. And always remember that whether you call the Knox campus home for four years or for 40, you are a valued member of our community.