Embrace Difference: A Message to the Community

DEPARTMENT(S): 
October 29, 2018

A message from President Laurie Leshin 

Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was tragic and senseless. And it comes on the heels of the racially motivated shootings at a grocery store in Kentucky, as well as the mailing of multiple pipe bombs that appear to have been politically motivated.  Personally, I have been deeply disturbed by these abhorrent acts fueled by hate, and I know others are as well.

If it feels like these incidents are on the rise, in fact, they are.  For example, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, the number of hate crimes reported to police in America’s 10 largest cities have risen for 4 years in a row. While other violent crime is steady or slowing, crime fueled by hatred for fellow human beings is growing.

Violence against any person – especially because of their political affiliation, faith, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, abilities, and/or socio-economic status - is not acceptable, period. This should go without saying, but apparently we need to say it time and again.

Our nation, our community and our humanity can only thrive when all are treated with respect.  In addition to calling out prejudice and intolerance, we must work collectively and actively against them. 

Here at WPI, I ask you to actively embrace difference.  It’s simply not enough to be tolerant of others as we work to make this campus a truly welcoming and safe place for all.  Seek out others who have different backgrounds.  Actively listen to someone with different views than yours.  Engage with them.  Learn from one another.  I truly believe that opening ourselves to embracing difference is the only way to combat the hate that is currently fueling so much rhetoric and violence in our country and around the world. I ask you to join me in this quest.

In the coming days, weeks and months, WPI will offer many opportunities to engage as a community for support, education and dialogue. 

In closing, I know you all join me in sending our deepest sympathies to all of the victims, witnesses, families, and friends impacted by these recent acts of terror.  Anyone in our community who is struggling as a result of recent events should reach out to the Counseling Center (students) or Employee Assistance Program (faculty & staff).  Thank you for your thoughtful engagement as we continue the important work of building a campus community that embraces difference.