Maine Memo — Observing and honoring in June, and always

Dear University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias communities,

June is a month for many important milestones that we observe and honor, as Chancellor Malloy noted in his recent message: Juneteenth, the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act,  and the 50th anniversary of Title IX. We also observe and celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June. All of these observances, including President Biden’s recent establishment of June as National Immigrant Heritage Month, are important reminders of how hard-won, and how essential, diversity is to how all live, learn, work, face challenges, and thrive.

Each of these milestones and observances reminds us of who we are and where we’ve come from; they invite us to not just imagine, but to do our part to ensure, a world free of racism, hatred, intolerance, inequity, and discrimination.

The University of Maine was founded in 1865 on the promise of building a better, inclusive, and just future for all who come here. That same year, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved African Americans were free. Today we observe Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

June is also Pride Month, a time to ensure that all in the LGBTQIA2S+ communities are free to self-identify in ways that enable them to be themselves, to be included, and to be free from discrimination. In 1973, the first openly gay student organization in Maine, the Wilde-Stein Club, was started by students in Orono. Known today as Wilde Stein: Queer Straight Alliance, the group continues to spread awareness and acceptance of sexuality, gender, and the LGBTQIA+ community across our campus. For nearly half a century, they have been devoted to creating an open and accepting environment for all students. I am thankful for their presence and the power of their messages in our community.

As we observe emancipation and the pursuit of inclusion and equity, I invite you to reflect on what freedom and justice mean. Nelson Mandela once noted that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Strength comes from the diversity of cultures, identities, experiences, ideas, and opinions that we each bring to the table.

Thank you for bringing all that you bring to this remarkable community and for defining a better tomorrow for us all.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy