Dear Campus Community:
We are in a climate of escalating forms of violence and hate. In recent months and days, we have witnessed U.S.-based terrorist bomb attacks on national government leaders and public figures; immigrant children detained and separated from parents; Muslim travel bans; and efforts to erase trans identities through federal policies.
This week, we must mourn the pointless and preventable loss of life from a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the killing of a U.S. journalist; and the shooting deaths of two African Americans in a Louisville, Kentucky, suburb.
Hate and violence devastate children, families and communities; spread fear and distrust; and restrict our capacity to build our best future. We may want to believe that these remote events, happening in other parts of the nation and the world, do not affect us, but that would be a mistake. Many in our community are feeling the impact of these tragedies. And all of us can work to ensure violence, discrimination, and other forms of human oppression are eliminated.
As administrators, faculty, and staff, we have important roles in preparing tomorrow’s heads of state, CEOs, scientists, cultural workers and teachers. As students, we are the next generation of creative minds, innovative thinkers and global caretakers. Leadership is not a spectator sport, and we cannot afford to stand idle.
Take a first step:
Become informed. At an institution of higher education, the best first step is to build your understanding and knowledge of the history and contemporary contexts of hate and violence. Visit the annual Tunnel of Oppression to engage in an immersive experience of scenes of oppression through interactive acting, viewing monologues, and multimedia. More information about this event is available at https://oma.ku.edu/tunnel-oppression. You can also link to http://diversity.ku.edu/about to stay abreast of public events and opportunities to learn, and enroll in classes that expand your understanding of the complexities of social difference, equity, and justice.
Take a second step:
Build on this knowledge by participating in one of several workshops and skill development activities, such as the few listed below:
Take a third step:
Engage where you are as an informed citizen and ally. For those we have lost and for those most vulnerable, your understanding, knowledge and action matter.
Carl Lejuez, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Jennifer Hamer, Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity