Support for those affected by the Orlando shooting

This message was sent to the entire Colorado State University campus community by President and System Chancellor Tony Frank on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

CSU President Tony Frank
CSU President Tony Frank

As news unfolds about the deadly mass-shooting in Orlando, Florida, we are left reeling with anger, sadness, and fear – and many among us are looking for ways to support the victims and their families. Colorado State University, as a community, is known for stepping up to help and support others in times of crisis, and it is clear the need in Florida will be tremendous, even as authorities are just beginning to fully comprehend the horrible toll of this tragedy. On behalf of our campus community, we will do our best to share information with you as it becomes available.

Here is what we know so far:

* Many of us may need support in working through our feelings and anxieties around the shooting and its aftermath. Students are encouraged to reach out to the CSU Health Network Counseling Center at (970) 491-6053 or Women and Gender Advocacy Center (970) 491-6384. The Employee Assistance Program for CSU employees can connect faculty and staff with community counseling resources.

* Colorado State’s GLBTQ2A Resource Center provides space for all in our community to explore and increase their understanding of issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in a non-judgmental environment. The center is open during the summer and welcomes all members of our CSU community. The office also will be coordinating efforts to send a card/poster with a message of CSU support to Orlando, and anyone who wants to sign the message may stop by the center sometime after Tuesday.

* A community vigil is planned for Monday, June 13, near the Old Town Square stage in Fort Collins, at 8 p.m. to honor the lives lost. CSU Vice Presidents Mary Ontiveros and Blanche Hughes will speak on behalf of the university at this event.

* The responding blood center in Orlando has put out an urgent nationwide request for donations. Bonfils Blood Center is coordinating blood donations statewide for those who want to contribute. In Fort Collins and Loveland, the Garth Englund Blood Donation Centers are set up to accept donations – for information on hours, locations, and how to schedule an appointment, go to the website. Appointments are strongly encouraged at any of these blood donation centers.

* Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe site to raise financial support for victims and their families.

* Local law enforcement has asked that we use this opportunity to remind all of us to be mindful of our surroundings and to report anyone who appears to be acting suspiciously – or vehicles, packages, or bags that appear to be out of place – to CSUPD or to any law enforcement agency without delay. In all situations, trust your instincts and do not minimize what you are seeing or experiencing if you see something that does not feel right.

Finally, it is important to remember that we are mourning the lives of 49 people murdered at an LGBT dance club – with countless others injured and traumatized – during what should be a time of celebration, solidarity, and pride: LGBT Pride Month 2016. The Colorado Pride Fest events next weekend in Denver’s Civic Center Park will certainly be a time for reflection and healing.

We also recognize that our anger and frustration around such seemingly senseless tragedies too often can lead to scapegoating and hatred directed toward others, in this case members of the Islamic, Middle Eastern and immigrant communities. Our greatest responsibility as a community dedicated to learning and respect for human dignity is to rise above such temptations and stand side by side with one another, comforting our neighbors who are in fear and demonstrating with courage that love, compassion, and decency are greater by far than the cringing cowardice that fuels hate, discrimination, and violence.

We all are asking ourselves, “When will this stop?” “What can we do?”

Well, we can start by doing better at loving and respecting one another, in spite of and because of our differences, and teaching the next generation to do the same. Diversity is our greatest strength as a nation and a people. Today, we stand tall in the conviction  that we — as a country of many identities, faiths, orientations, heritages, nationalities, and viewpoints — are stronger because of these differences and that we are – and must be – better than this.

It begins with each of us, individually and as a community.