Associate Dean makes sensible non-partisan proposal for safety pins

Some simple common sense –  something which has often been missing from the previous statements on the halloween incident and the Trump election – from CAS Natural Science Assoc Dean Hal Sadofsky, here:

I’m not someone who normally embraces symbols, but I want all our faculty, staff and students to feel safe and to feel they belong here, and I feel a need to communicate that. This is even more important at this moment. There is a lot we all try to do already to make this campus safe. But there is more work to do—and also work to do to help people feel safe, which is not quite the same thing.

This past summer the electorate of the United Kingdom chose to exit the European Union. That campaign, like the presidential campaign that just ended, featured nativism, white nationalism, and rhetoric that denigrated and dehumanized huge sectors of the population. The immediate post-election period included countless incidents of hate speech, threat, harassment, and sometimes violence aimed at immigrants and people of color. Those who wished to stand up and be counted as proponents of inclusion (regardless of their feelings about Brexit) chose to identify themselves by wearing a safety pin—code for wanting people to be safe.

Wearing the safety pin showed that you were a safe person to sit next to on a bus, walk next to on a street, and to have a conversation with. Wearing the safety pin showed that you were opposed to racism and wanted all members of your community to feel they belonged and to feel safe. It seems strange to have to identify oneself as explicitly opposed to racism and sexism, but perhaps this moment requires it. The events of the past weeks, coupled with the language of the presidential campaign, don’t send a message of safety and belonging. It feels vital to signal that we stand with the members of our community from other nations, people of color, immigrants, and everyone else who may feel targeted.

I’ve now heard stories (mostly second hand, some first hand) from people who feel frightened, and others who feel unwelcome. I try to imagine, for example, being a first-year undergraduate from overseas who may believe that half of the “white” faces on campus want them deported, or being an African American faculty member on a campus that has experienced two incidents of blackface in less than two weeks.

I will be wearing a safety pin on my clothing today. It is a tiny gesture and can’t change the behavior of bullies or those determined to harass others. But if widely adopted and understood, it could help people who feel isolated know that they belong. It is a way to express alliance with the forces of tolerance and inclusivity. As I wrote above, I’m not someone who usually chooses symbolism, but I feel the need for a symbolic gesture in the aftermath of the election and of incidents intended to make some of us feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

If this idea resonates with you, please follow suit! I’ve brought 400 pins, available in the CAS Dean’s office (114 Friendly) if you wish to pick one up. Andrew has ordered another 2,500 that we hope will be available sometime Monday.

Hal Sadofsky, Associate Dean for Natural Sciences

Count me in. OSU President Ed Ray also had a good statement:

Faculty, staff and students,

Many members of our university community are experiencing a range of significant, heartfelt emotions following Tuesday’s election.

Several faculty, staff and students have shared with me that they fear for their future and the futures of family members and friends, especially people from diverse backgrounds and identities. Other members of our community are expressing joy about political change.  Each of these emotions is personal and powerful.

As members of our university community, we must care for each other and support one another despite the turmoil of the moment. If you are in need of assistance or would like to talk to someone about what you are experiencing, and are a Corvallis student, please visit the Student Affairs Student Resources website at OSU-Cascades students should visit Employees needing assistance may utilize the OSU Employee Assistance Program by confidentially calling 1-800-433-2320 at any time or by calling the Human Resources Department at 541-737-3103.

I ask you to join me in looking ahead.

At this moment of national transition, we reaffirm that Oregon State’s mission of inclusive excellence in teaching, research, and outreach and engagement has not changed. OSU’s mission to promote economic, social, cultural and environmental progress for the people of Oregon, the nation and the world remains essential, and we will not realize our vision for the future unless we find common ground with those around us and unless we persist in this effort.

Since its founding, this country has overcome division and uncertainty by people coming together to address challenges, by respecting differences, and by demonstrating compassion and leadership.

This is the 56th presidential election in our nation’s history and every transition of leadership has occurred peacefully. The need for us to support each other, celebrate our diversity and promote the success of every member of our community and America remains unaltered. This is at the core of who we are and how we need to go forward.

On Wednesday, I saw impressive, moving and peaceful evidence of this America among us as dozens upon dozens of OSU students gathered in the Memorial Union quad throughout the day, and where approximately 400 students and community members marched through the evening on campus to call for an end to hate and to focus on our common humanity.

Let each of us help and serve one another. Let each of us help bring America together, while we count on and challenge all of our country’s leaders to do the same.

Going forward, I encourage you to stay engaged in our nation’s political process and lead your own lives in ways that reflect our common values as a community.

I am here to help, care and, with you, lead forward.

Edward J. Ray, President

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10 Responses to Associate Dean makes sensible non-partisan proposal for safety pins

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Ed Ray’s statement sensible and coherent and even acknowledges that there were people on both sides in the election with legitimate feelings.

    The engineer pres seems more articulate and astute than the attorney pres. No wonder OSU wins favor in Oregon.

    I am all for people cooling it and remaining and acting safely.

    I note that the violence I have read about in Oregon seems to be mostly in anti-Trump riots. Assault and the like. There was a shooting in Portland that is said to appear gang related and perhaps by anti-anti Trump people.

    I wish it were acknowledged that violence is a two-way street.

    • uomatters says:

      Ed Ray is an economics professor.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Right, thanks for the correction.

      • Fishwrapper says:

        He’s also been a calm and sensible hand on the controls for longer than the decade-plus I’ve been here. There are times I sincerely wish we could share him…

  2. A good idea, and not his. says:

    I hope Professor Sadofsky gives other people credit for their ideas when he writes maths papers. His nappy-pin proposal has been out in the US national press for days:

    • uomatters says:


    • just different says:
      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        different — I like Hal Sadofsky’s suggestion. In case you don’t know, there has been violence and harassment on both sides of the political divide, if you want to call it that. A lot of cops have been attacked physically in the various anti-Trump protests. Trump supporters have been attacked, sometimes viciously and violently. I don’t think “Black Lives Matter” covers the territory very well.

        • just different says:

          Maybe the cast of Hamilton should have worn safety pins last night to (as Trump put it) make the theater “a safe and special place” for Mike Pence. This is the problem with “two-way street” rhetoric: imploring someone to govern on behalf of all Americans gets equated with threatening someone with deportation.

    • duckduckgo says:

      Why are you claiming Hal made up this idea when he wrote, “Those who wished to stand up and be counted as proponents of inclusion (regardless of their feelings about Brexit) chose to identify themselves by wearing a safety pin—code for wanting people to be safe.”

      I can only conclude you didn’t read his message and decided to attack him without any justification. You should apologize to him for your attack and for your stupidity in this matter.