From the Desk of the President: Community Connection in Times of Crisis

May 25, 2022

Today, my heart is heavy – as a human, an American citizen, a parent, a spouse and a leader. Somehow, today marks another year since the murder of George Floyd. It’s a moment that motivated many of us to speak up and take action. We seem to find ourselves there again.

We woke up to our flags at half staff following the horrific shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where more than 20 lives – mostly children – were cut short without reason. Just more than a week ago, we heard the news of a racially-motivated massacre in a Buffalo grocery store. Just before that,  we read headlines about a deadly shooting in a California church, also motivated by hate. Simultaneously, we see relentless images of war and suffering overseas in Ukraine. We watch the number of positive COVID cases surge yet again as we enter another phase and fight another variant.

In other words, it can feel like very little has changed since May 25, 2020. Not speaking for anyone else, but I agree with the comments Steve Kerr made in response to what happened in Texas: I am tired of moments of silence. 

My middle schooler turned to me last night and said she feels like the world is falling apart around her. I had to agree. But as our discussion continued, I shared with her the same thoughts I have shared with friends and colleagues. While all of this is overwhelming and frightening, to pull back, numb out and become small is the last thing we should be doing right now. We simply cannot. 

Instead, we must find some way to connect. As humans, we are built that way. As residents in Columbia, so many of us are here because we believe that purposeful connection matters. My lived experience is that it does. 

I absolutely encourage you to pull your loved ones close, make the calls, send the notes and do all of the things we all feel compelled to do at times like these. But I also  urge everyone to engage here in our community. We are stronger together. I ask what do we – as Columbians – want to be “for” right now? What does it mean to build, move forward, improve and strengthen? What if instead of being “against,” instead we enhanced something, changed it or unified around it? 

If you ask me, the answer to those questions lies in community connection. That means truly inclusive, intentional and celebratory. So many of us want to connect here, and we as CA are working to find more meaningful and better ways to be in service to that connection. 

I urge our Columbia community to continue to be conscious, aware and present. The best way forward is to connect with one another. It’s only together that we can work toward real change. As I said a year ago, we owe it to everyone who adds to the vibrancy of Columbia to lead conversations and approach them with empathy, respect, and compassion. Our history is rooted in these values, and they will be an important part of the future we are creating together.

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