I am sharing the following email sent by University of Montana President George Dennison. It’s in reference to the new — and absolutely beautiful architecture — Native building, which is set for dedication on May 13. the president’s message underscores the importance and the need for the new building. It’s certainly already given American Indian students an unprecedented presence on campus. It’s truly amazing. Here’s a story I wrote on the building for The Montanan.
Please read Dennison’s thoughts, in his own words:
I regret to have to inform the campus community that some unknown person or persons committed acts of vandalism that marred the newest facility on the campus even before we have had the opportunity to dedicate it. The Payne Family Native American Center has the role and mission to serve the campus community as well as the Native American communities around the State. I believe I speak for most people when I express our pride in having this special facility made possible by the generosity of the donors. No other campus in the country has such a facility. That communal pride strikes me as entirely appropriate and inspirational.
I must also say, however, that I find this behavior baffling. Why would anyone—whether a member of the campus community or not—deliberately deface such a wonderful facility with symbolic importance to the campus and surrounding communities? As I recall, the campus experienced something similar with regard to a temporary structure—a sukkah holding great religious significance—erected on the campus by members of the Jewish community. In response, I sent an appeal to the campus requesting help in the protection of the sukkah. The campus community responded quickly and overwhelmingly in a very positive way. I ask once again that we all observe what happens on campus and report any activities that appear to threaten the grounds, facilities, and campus members. We have a campus environment and community spirit that has no tolerance for socially destructive behavior. Let us rally once again and insist upon respect for others and for our community.
Thank you for whatever you can do to assist in the maintenance of our wonderful community.
President George Dennison.