Dear City College Community,
I know that some of you carry the weight of the Christchurch attacks around with you. You may wonder if there will ever be a time when you can take for granted your acceptance into any community that is distant from the land of your ancestors. You may be searching the eyes of the people you meet with new questions who does this person think I am? What do I need to fear from this person's prejudice?
By now, you doubtless are weary of the feeling a feeling you know is simply not fair that you must personally (in your lives, with your words, with the expression you carry into the world) correct the misapprehensions of the ill-informed and bigoted. You may have used up the reserve of careful explanation you have for your younger siblings or your children, or your parents, when they ask why this could happen. For yourself.
It seems that we are daily confronted with fresh evidence of the human capacity to do harm to one another. It is wearying, and discouraging, and relentless, and threatens daily to corrode the opposite and more powerful capacity we all have to encourage, to comfort and to extend a spirit of generosity to one another. We must do what we can to protect this campus from violence and danger, working as a community to make sure that the rifts that rend society outside our campus are mended within it. We must, each one of us, also pay attention to the quiet burdens and secret fears that many of our companions must now carry around. Make an extra effort to reassure, to welcome, to find solidarities in the dreams and visions that we share for one another.
Our college is a place of becoming. People have arrived here for 171 years filled with hopes for what the time we spend together will mean for their futures, and the futures of their children. For the power of this sacred place to work at all, it must work for all--and every one of us has the power to shake the confidence of those around us, or to fortify it. Be alert: seek out the hidden hurts of those near you, and salve them.
Understand that the college now sets, and will forever set itself against prejudice and violence. We are irrevocably committed to the idea of the welfare, security and promise of the whole people. These commitments must find expression in the great institutional promises we have made and in the small gestures of hospitality and kindness with which we forge our community. I urge you, in large acts and small, to be part of that community, and so join our efforts to chart a better way.
Today, members of our community are holding a vigil to mourn and honor the fallen of Christchurch. It will take place from noon - 1:15 pm at the NAC front entrance (the Time Capsule). I'd like to thank the City College Muslim Students Organization & Women in Islam and the Students for Justice in Palestine at City College, who thoughtfully organized this gathering. I'm grateful for your efforts and heartily endorse the gathering. I'll be there, and it would be wonderful if as many of you stop by as well.