Last night, all of you received the message that we would be returning to “regular operations” today. The use of the word “regular” was intentional, and a departure from our usual phrasing of returning to “normal operations” following a weather-related closing.
As soon as Police and Public Safety was made aware of the attack in the Kennedy building, the entire campus was placed on lockdown. Many of you were teaching classes, working in your offices, cleaning a campus building, serving food to our students, or taking buses to your vehicles at the end of your workday. Some of you remained in place for hours providing comfort to each other and to our students; some of you remained in place for hours all alone. Others of you were at home, out to dinner with friends or loved ones, or at a child’s after-school event, reading and watching as an unimaginable tragedy unfolded in the heart of the campus you cherish and work so hard to support. Still others, our brave first responders, were running toward the sound of gunshots and administering first aid to the injured and dying.
There is nothing “normal” about any of those experiences.
There is also nothing normal about the way our community has responded, both in rising to confront the evil as it occurred, and in the aftermath to provide resources and reassurance to those in physical and emotional need. There is nothing normal about the 8,000 people who packed Halton Area last night for the beautiful candlelight vigil orchestrated by our students, or about the thousands of other individuals who showed their support by watching the vigil online or staging vigils in other locations. Niner Nation has spoken in word and deed.
In the days and weeks ahead, please make self-care a priority. Counseling services are available for all faculty and staff, and I strongly encourage you to take full advantage of those services as you process the events of this week. As we’re taking care of ourselves personally, let’s also ensure that we continue to look out for each other as we have over the past several days. That’s what Niners do.
I want to assure you that the safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff remains my #1 priority. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be conducting an extensive independent and external after-action review to look at what went well and to examine and address areas for improvement.
As I shared in the vigil, we will emerge from these difficult days. We will not emerge unchanged, but we will emerge united and stronger. That will be our new normal.
Philip L. Dubois