On January 6th we bore witness to insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol. We stand with Chancellor Wilcox’s statement in condemning “…in the strongest possible terms the horrific mob attack…”. This event is not singular but is rooted in a longer history of racism and antiblack violence, expectations of who government is meant to serve, and whose voices are legitimate. The attack made me ask questions about entitlement and how we learn to be curious vs insisting on a singular way of life. It also made me acknowledge that we come to this moment with different backgrounds and situations. Even with our differences this was a collective witnessing and we are impacted by this appalling historical moment.
As the most diverse campus in the UC system and a campus that supports the social mobility of all of our students, we know how and why our students’ voices matter. We know that education matters. We are in a space that affords us the privilege to affirm a world that has room for critical thinking and being matter. We get to talk about politics, race, history, inequity, media, the multitude of ways of being human. What our students learn from classes in CHASS helps them to know our pasts and potential futures. It supports them in interpreting and analyzing events. We provide our students with the skills to avoid falling victim to misinformation and disinformation. We help them understand and critically make sense of the events and to express that knowledge in a multitude of forms.
But all of this comes to us in the middle of a pandemic. It is a time when we marked the highest number of deaths due to Covid-19, a time when we continue to reckon with our antiblackness, a time when we’ve been in a remote learning environment so much longer than we anticipated, a time of loss and grief. We are struggling individually and collectively.
This is also a time where we see that what we do collectively matters. We saw historically high participation in voting. We see our frontline workers care for us every day. We see our communities come together in collective support. We see so many stand up for Black Lives. We watched our scientists work for a vaccine that is being distributed. What we do matters. What we do collectively matters. As we continue to endure, I hope that we take all the things that are critical, creative, and inspiring about what CHASS has to offer and have needed conversations with each other and our students.
I know that so many of you change your class agenda in these moments to meet our collective needs. Thank you. I know that so many have continued throughout the pandemic to show grace and flexibility in your classes. Thank you. Both our faculty and staff make space for the multiple and challenging demands so that our students can continue their path in higher education. Thank you. I know that we are all working so hard to make it through this crisis. Thank you. In the ways that you show compassion to others also save some compassion for yourself. In our collective witnessing we also see who we are, our actions, and how what we do matters. Thank you.
With respect and gratitude,