Editor’s note: Colorado State University President Tony Frank sent the following message to the entire campus community on Oct. 29, 2018.
The terrible events of this past week have left many members of our community fearful and struggling, and all of us seeking to process the intentional destruction of human life and dignity that seems to spring from a deep reservoir of contempt and hate within our culture and society.
As our discourse veers toward anger, as anger spills over from words into actions ranging from heated arguments on our campus to shootings in a synagogue, we wonder what is next. I have wrestled with all the pain that the news of this past week has brought us, as have most of you, I suspect. And if I can take anything from all of this, it is the recognition that there are broken people among us who will try to break and harm others to elevate themselves…because when we are broken, the lies of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and hate-based discrimination of all kinds seep in to fill the cracks.
We wonder what we can do.
One thing we can do is to lead with love to try to prevent others from being similarly broken. In a community such as ours, we do this in many ways: in our Early Childhood Center with our littlest, most tender Rams; by helping people learn to communicate across difference and listen and learn from one another; by creating art that transcends and triumphs; by teaching ethics and opportunity. And we can hold to our principles of community and to the timeless wisdom that love is stronger than hate, and we must put our work and our energies toward love, life, and the elevation, not degradation, of our world and the human condition.
I don’t write today pretending to have answers, but I do write with confidence that we can move forward together. The local faith community has planned a vigil this evening at 6:30 p.m. in Old Town Square to honor the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting. It is a time and place for us all to come together and to show our support for the students and other members of our community who have been impacted by this horrible act. Whether you do or don’t attend the vigil, I ask that you be gentle this week with all those around us who have been impacted by these and other events or are hurting for different reasons.
Finally, as we begin our week, I ask that we take a moment to remember these names:
These are the innocent people lost in the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the grocery store shooting in Kentucky. As is always the case, no matter where such tragedy strikes or the color, religion, or status of its victims, their tragedy is our tragedy. We honor them and their beautiful lives and the good they brought into this world that is lasting and remains.
So let’s try and stand in each other’s shoes. Let’s try to share grace with others as it has inevitably been shared with each of us. Let’s take care of each other.
Dr. Tony Frank