Thinking of your safety and wellbeing

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Dear Western community, 

I continue to hear from members of our community about their struggles to make sense of the atrocities committed in the Israel-Hamas war and its impact on their lives and their concerns for personal safety and those of their loved ones. 

I want you to know that I too continue to be gravely concerned about the impact of the war in the Middle East, as well as the Ukraine-Russia war and conflicts in other parts of the world, on innocent people—those who have died, who have been injured or held hostage, and the countless individuals who have suffered through serious mental and emotional anguish and physical danger in dealing with the horrors of war.  At the same time, I am also concerned about the health of the Western community.  I know that many of you feel unsafe, physically, emotionally, or both, and that many of you are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. I understand your pain and suffering and am truly sorry for what many of you are going through. We will continue to provide mental and emotional support to our students and others through the counseling center and other university services, as we have shared previously. 

I know there has been an increase in antisemitic, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim messaging and incidents locally and globally and the escalating divisive dialogue is creating a threatening environment for many. While I may not be communicating with you as often as you would like, I want to assure you that we are continually monitoring the university environment as well as the regional and the broader external environments, and our campus police are working closely with local law enforcement agencies to ensure maximum safety for all members of our community. 

While we do not have control over external events, we do have a responsibility for the space we define as “Western.” I understand that my most important duty is to ensure the safety of all individuals who are part of this space, and each of us carries responsibility on how we share this space with other members of the community. I want to state again that any form of discrimination, threat, and violence has no place at Western, and we will continue to work together to ensure a shared space where we respect and honor the humanity and wellbeing of every member of the Western community. 

Higher education provides a unique forum for the open and respectful exchange of ideas and opinions. As an educational institution, Western is committed to creating safe spaces and environments where we can provide the best education we can to our students, and where we can all learn and grow.  This includes an openness to better understanding the complex, geopolitical issues of our times and the different forces that shape our society. Developing this understanding requires engaging in civic dialogue with others in the classroom or other settings, considering information from all sources critically, and having the humility to recognize that ours is one of many perspectives on multifaceted issues. 

With heartfelt thoughts for your safety and wellbeing,

Sabah Randhawa