President Diacon Encourages Campus Community to Embrace Core Values During 'Times of Stress'

Emphasis placed on free speech, kindness and respect during Talking With Todd session

Kent State University President Todd Diacon encouraged the campus community to lean on the university's core values during times of stress and pressure, as many are feeling now with the ongoing unrest in Israel and Gaza.

During his most recent Talking With Todd segment in which he speaks live from the President's Office and takes questions, Diacon encouraged kindness and respect at the personal level. In addition, Diacon emphasized that the university's tragic history with the events of May 4, 1970, provides lessons that can guide the university community through the divisiveness of world events and the mounting discord of future events, including the 2024 elections.

Diacon shared that his focus will remain on what he’s for, rather than what he’s against as a leader.

“I am for the right to say what one thinks, with the goal of doing so in a manner that’s kind and respectful of those who are going to think quite differently than you do,” Diacon said.

The president suggested that the May 4, 1970, legacy reminds us of the potential extreme consequences of division and the price of free expression.

“Kindness and respect on the one hand, freedom of expression on the other,” he said.

The “Armed With Our Voices” exhibit provides a powerful form of cross-generational connection that engages users in the events of May 4, 1970, and the importance of peace, conflict resolution and student activism today.
Positive Change
Respect and Kindness are Key at KSU

Talking the values talk is one thing, but walking the walk can be difficult. Diacon cited three challenging factors he categorized as “localization.”

  • The misperception that events elsewhere in the U.S. and the world, particularly on university campuses, must also be happening at Kent State.
  • Pressure from regional and national organizations applied to Kent State students, leading them to represent positions that aren’t necessarily their own.
  • The intense stress created by a 24-7 news coverage and ever-present social media.

Watch the full Talking With Todd session:


Diacon referenced his August address to first-year students where he emphasized free speech and ways to disagree while still being respectful and kind to one another.


POSTED: Friday, December 1, 2023 11:11 AM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2023 11:12 AM