BGSU president BG Mayor

Bowling Green Mayor Mike Aspacher, left, and Bowling Green State University President Rodney Rogers.

It has been more than seven years since Bowling Green State University and the City of Bowling Green partnered to launch Not In Our Town – an initiative to champion diversity and inclusion and to position our community to be more welcoming to each person so they feel like they belong in Bowling Green.

While our true college town has experienced progress, we still face immense challenges. Today, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and beyond our focus on public health, our nation is grappling with a race and social justice crisis.

We recognize that Bowling Green is not immune to those problems. We need to renew our commitment to fostering a community that does not tolerate hate, and values not just what makes us similar, but what makes us different.

Not In Our Town is an example of when people come together, engage one another, listen and learn from one another, we are better for it.

Journalist Katherine Anne Porter writes, “Be respectful of words. They mean something.” Words do matter. So, in a new NIOT monthly column, you will hear from community members and their perspectives. Whether it is public health, or race and identify, we know that our community can have a positive impact in our own backyard, right here in Bowling Green.

This work lies in our commitment to education, in our outreach and in our ability to partner and work together.

What we say, what we do, and how we move forward forms the fabric of who we are.

Each member of our community, no matter who they are, where they are from or what they look like are supported and valued here.

We appreciate our local media partners and their help in telling this important message. These columns will highlight our collective successes in our community, but will identify the work ahead.

The next NIOT Community Conversation focuses on free speech vs. hate speech and will occur Sept. 28 from 6:30-8 p.m. This virtual event can be found at this link: and will be available on the NIOT Facebook page.

This mission is more important than ever, and we look forward to continuing this work, together.

(Aspacher is Bowling Green’s mayor and Rogers is president of Bowling Green State University.)