Let’s Lead by Example

Dear Members of the Kent State University Community, 

The momentous Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade directly impacts over half of the student body at Kent State, and it draws all of us into a difficult, emotional and historic debate over rights and responsibilities. It is yet another fault line dividing members of our own community. 

Some in our community are celebrating the decision. Others are devastated by the denial of what was an established right for nearly 50 years. I do not need to reveal my own thoughts on the abortion debate, but as a historian and someone who remembers the world pre-Roe v. Wade, I will say that rarely will any of us experience such a dramatic change, literally from one day to the next, in what citizens are allowed or not allowed to do in our country. To me, this feels like uncharted territory. 

At Kent State, we are an institution committed to exploring the hardest, most vexing issues of the day. And, because of our history, we are committed to doing so in a spirit of inquiry that seeks to understand and welcome all viewpoints in a spirited civil discourse. We know at Kent State the dangers of polarization, and we have lived through more than 50 years of pain, anger and despair when disagreement turned suddenly to violence. We are Kent State, and our history and mission demand that we lead by example the next phase of discussion and debate over abortion in America.  

So where do we go from here? First, as an institution of higher learning, it is our responsibility to provide forums for the discussion of this momentous decision and for the discussion of other topics that divide us today. We will present opportunities for dialogue over the coming months and will invite all in our broad community to attend and participate. Living up to our core value of kindness and respect in all we do, we will ask attendees to participate in a spirit of openness and respect for those who think differently than we do. We are committed to learning about others’ viewpoints and to supporting them as they express those viewpoints, even when they differ from our own.

Second, as we live up to our Flashes Take Care of Flashes commitment, taking care of each other means helping community members find support during times of need. Here, we have compiled an easy-to-find, informative list of area reproductive health providers, counseling services and educational sites. These resources will be updated regularly and will be available online and at many locations on our campuses, including the DeWeese Health Center and the Women’s Center.

Finally, momentous decisions such as this one are a reminder of how the democratic process works in our country. Those for and against the ruling can organize politically, and we can support candidates representative of our varied viewpoints. We can vote. But before any of us can vote, we must first register to vote. I urge you to do so today if you are not already registered. 

In kindness and respect,  

Todd Diacon

POSTED: Monday, June 27, 2022 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Monday, June 27, 2022 - 8:00am
​​​​​​President Todd Diacon