Dear GW Students:
Today, we are sad. We ache for our sisters and brothers, our mothers and fathers, our friends and our neighbors, our classmates and peers who continue to live in an unjust world that surrounds them. The senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and others before them did not have to happen. Their lives were taken too early and we will never fully appreciate the good they brought into this world.
Almost two years ago when I moved to D.C., I eagerly ran to the Supreme Court and took a joyous picture. I was so proud that our nation finally saw to it that I could marry whomever I loved in the name of equality. I returned this weekend to the same spot and found myself at odds. When I looked up again at these words, “Equal Justice Under Law,” I felt heartsick realizing the hollowness of those words. Until ALL OF US have equal justice under the law, no one does.
On behalf of my colleagues in the Division for Student Affairs, I want to reassure you that we are here for each and every one of you. We send our love, compassion, prayers, and our promise that we will not remain silent. Racism, oppression, discrimination, and inequality have no place in this world or in our community. We can and should do better. I pledge that I will. And, I know that there is a dedicated team working alongside me who also pledge to do better.
We want to echo what President LeBlanc said yesterday. We wish we were together on campus to support each other at this time. Even though we are not physically together, please know we are a community that cares for each other. No matter your location, if you are experiencing sadness, anger, hurt, and/or pain, we want you to know that there are resources you can turn to, especially at this time, to help you cope with your feelings:
- Our Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) team is available via virtual consultations;
- Our Campus Living & Residential Education team is available to talk with and help our summer in-residence students;
- Our colleagues in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement are offering their support to come together as a community to process, work on healing, and move towards action.
During times like this, it may be hard to find the words to describe what you are feeling. It also may be hard to ask for help. If you or someone you know may need support and you do not know where to begin or who to ask: reach out to me. I’ll help connect you to our CARE Network.
These last couple of months have been difficult. With the events of the past weeks, the emotional toll is likely deeper. Now, more than ever, we need each other. We need each other for support, to listen, and to learn and understand each other.
Together, we must seek accountability for the injustice and hatred around us.
Together, we will stand with you. You never have to worry whether I will remain silent against racism, bias, and inequality. I will not.
Together, we raise high. Tomorrow, we raise higher.
M.L. “Cissy” Petty, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students