Sent Sunday, May 31, 2020
On Friday President Randhawa sent a message to campus expressing our outrage about the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and recognizing the intense burdens of fear, grief, and anxiety that our black students and colleagues are bearing. Also emphasized in that message was the importance of our proactively extending compassion and understanding to those who are suffering. Through his blog, Faculty Senate President Jeff Young addressed faculty along similar lines on Saturday. I was moved by those two messages and share the emotions and concerns that informed them. I follow up here on those very important statements to encourage you to reflect on the very simple and practical ways you can extend that compassion and understanding to our students as the quarter comes to a close.
While it has been important throughout Spring Quarter to take care, to be considerate, to afford flexibility, and to accommodate needs during the COVID-19 crisis, such approaches are even more important now. Faculty at Western are extraordinarily supportive of students, and I have been both proud of and unsurprised by the lengths to which you have gone in Spring Quarter to extend that kindness to students. We know that the current circumstances are affecting our black students in powerful emotional and psychological ways—how could they not? As you consider the ways you can help your students succeed at Western this quarter and beyond, please be sure to provide flexibility to students who might require it, including but not limited to the assignment of incomplete grades and/or deadline extensions as appropriate. By putting our compassion into action during this extremely difficult time, we can show our students that we understand some small part of what they are going through, that we care about them, and that we want them with us for the long run at Western.