October 15, 2023
Dear members of the Connecticut College community,
I am writing to you today following a week of tragedy in Israel and Gaza and a week of grief, outrage and concern experienced by members of our own community, here on campus and around the world. This is a heartbreaking time with the unforgivable terrorist attack by Hamas and the deaths of innocent Israelis, Palestinians and other civilians in the region.
As the war continues for a second week, our focus of attention remains on the well-being of our Jewish, Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students, along with our entire student body, faculty and staff. As with you, this tragedy has occupied my emotions and thoughts given the violence we are witnessing. I want to reaffirm that this College condemns hatred and violence in any form and deeply values the sanctity of all human life, which is endangered by the indiscriminate shelling of civilians on both sides.
Many in the Conn community have family and friends in Israel and Gaza, so our focus remains on making space for community and freedom of expression and ensuring everyone feels truly safe, supported, heard and valued. Maintaining a safe campus for everyone is always our top priority, which is why we immediately implemented additional safety measures across campus that will continue 24/7 into the foreseeable future.
Throughout this past week, I have met with many members of our campus in conversation, in prayer and in community. I want to offer my thanks to those of you who attended Wednesday’s gathering of solace for Israel at Zachs Hillel House and Thursday’s prayer vigil in Harkness Chapel. And I thank all our faculty, staff and students who have been in conversation with each other one-on-one and in groups. This is an important time for us to lean on one another for support. We hope to offer additional opportunities to build bonds in the coming weeks.
I hope that during fall break, we will take time in person or virtually with family and friends to reflect even more deeply on this ongoing tragedy. Anger is easy; forgiveness is hard. Together, we can reject division and hate. We can have grace. We can have compassion. We can have a communal spirit. We can care for one another. We can be a force for good.
Les Wong, Ph.D.