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Yesterday (Aug. 20), we gathered with nearly 3,000 new students in McCamish Pavilion for our annual New Student Convocation, where I encouraged our freshmen and transfer students to take full advantage of all the resources and opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer. In addition to the RAT Caps and a copy of the T-Book, this year at Convocation we issued Georgia Tech-branded glasses for viewing today’s (Aug. 21) solar eclipse, and we have numerous activities and “watch parties” planned at various locations around campus.
As I thought about the eclipse, I couldn’t help but reflect on the similarities between these glasses and some of the recent events in the news, specifically the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville last weekend. The people who would seek to impose hatred and violence on others in our society are blinded not by glasses, but rather by intolerance, ignorance, and a false sense of superiority that can also do permanent harm. While there will always be those who will try to use the university environment as a platform for their own agendas, we have seen this past week how our academic community and society can stand united in opposition to hatred and bigotry and its distorted view of what freedom means in our United States. At Georgia Tech, we remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for the entire community, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, beliefs, or perspectives.