Thursday, March 4, 2021
The University of Iowa Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Liz Tovar Standing

The past year has taught me the fine line between unifying and diversifying, being together while also respecting our differences. The notion of finding its balance is the purpose of today's note.  

I appreciate the ongoing conversations, taking place across our state, and our country for that matter, regarding the intersection of freedom of expression and diversity, equity, and inclusion. While difficult and challenging we are laser-focused on continuing to improve our university’s progress to make for a more inclusive and accepting environment.

While our campus will follow the laws of our state and nation as we always have, we stand committed to providing an authentic and welcoming atmosphere where differences of opinion and healthy debate will be encouraged. We are also committed to educating our community's different views, backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles.  

We have to be a community where one culture isn't more discussed than another, or that one way of thinking is more appropriate than another. Our responsibility is to provide a safe environment for everyone, especially our students, to learn about these differences and have conversations to make informed decisions in life.  

We must welcome the opportunity to constructively listen to each other.  

With critical listening skills, we form a deeper understanding of each other. Today, we are listening to react rather than understand. We assume too much without having a conversation. We expect immediate answers to questions that take time to answer.  

As I mentioned in my last note, if we can train ourselves to understand each other through constructive listening, we can realize mutual respect, without fear of retribution.  

Listening is the critical next step we will take on Iowa's Journey to Unity.

Liz