To the UConn Community:
Like many of you, I continue to mourn the devastating loss of life in Israel and Gaza and, at the same time, have been heartened by the peaceful exchange of hostages and prisoners that is taking place now.
The human tragedy playing out in Israel and Gaza and its impact on UConn’s community continues to generate deep concern for the well-being of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Since Oct. 7, amid peaceful protests on our campuses, the administration has reached out to and met with student groups, both Jewish and Muslim, and is inviting members of our community to participate in organized dialogues in the coming days.
I want to extend my concern to each of you at this time and invite all of you to come together as one community — a community that is compassionate, empathetic, and kind.
During any conflict, one of the most important roles a university can play is to invite people to come together; make a space for dialogue; and help one another to learn and understand the relevant history, dynamics, and roots of the conflict. As a community, we must listen to and support each other.
As Provost D’Alleva and the Dean of Students shared, UConn’s administration and faculty experts have organized a series of discussions that can help bring us together and shed light on the situation in the Middle East. Additional discussions are being scheduled and will be announced soon. They will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.
I encourage you to join these forums and others that will be planned. As we navigate these difficult times, please care for one another and take advantage of the support UConn has to offer, including resources at Student Health and Wellness and among our faculty.
If you know someone who is suffering, reach out to them. The safety and well-being of all our students is our highest priority and there is no room for intimidation, threats, or hate on our campuses.
Last week, UConn participated in two statewide meetings to address safety at Connecticut institutions of higher education. The first was a meeting with the state’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), and the second was a meeting with Gov. Lamont and the presidents of Connecticut’s colleges and universities. We discussed potential strategies to help enhance security and combat hate crimes at our institutions during this fraught time.
In light of everything from threatening messages received by members of our community to posters appearing on our campuses that allude to violence, it is clear that we must be ever more vigilant in working to protect our community.
As an institution, we place the highest value on free speech; at the same time we continually seek legal guidance and advice when words or actions may cross a line and become harassment or hate crimes. As always, please report any bias incidents that you experience on our campuses.
Academically, during the spring semester we will offer courses on antisemitism and Islamophobia, both of which are on the rise nationally and globally.
Most importantly, please help care for UConn’s community and make every one of its members feel welcomed and loved!
Leading with joy and love for all,