Dear Members of the USF Community,
The tragic events that began on Oct. 7 and continue today are of a scale and brutality that defy comprehension. I know that members of the USF community are aching with sympathy, and dealing with grief, shock, and devastating loss. Many of us are hearing from family, loved ones, friends, and colleagues in Gaza and Israel who are suffering amid this humanitarian crisis.
Here at USF, we have a responsibility to treat colleagues and classmates with respect. In classroom discussions, campus activities, and academic debates, you have the right to express your opinion — but not to cause any member of this community to fear for their safety. Please be aware of the power and impact of your words, especially on social media platforms and during campus gatherings and public demonstrations.
At USF, we abhor and denounce racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other form of hate, discrimination, and violence. Every member of the USF community must model the conduct that we wish to see in the world.
USF offers an education that helps students become problem-solvers, peace-makers, and agents of social justice. As a Jesuit Catholic project, the USF community’s understanding of social justice is built upon a belief in an ancient revelation, a truth revealed by God that says something true, always and everywhere, and touches upon our ultimate destiny: all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and are endowed by God with an inalienable dignity.
At difficult and horrifying times like these, we do our best when we try to act out of this belief. The care and attention we give to each other is one of the great strengths of our community and is much needed in today’s world.
If you or campus friends, classmates, or colleagues need additional assistance or support, please take advantage of the resources available to you in University Ministry, Student Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Human Resources.
USF faculty members will hold a teach-in on issues related to the Middle East conflict and current events on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. in Lone Mountain 100 (Handlery Room). Moderated by Associate Professor Aysha Hidayatullah (theology and religious studies), speakers will include Associate Professor Aline Hitti (psychology), Assistant Professor Oren Kroll-Zeldin (Jewish studies and social justice), and Professor Keally McBride (politics). The teach-in is open to all members of the USF community. It is co-sponsored by the Department of International Studies, the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, the Middle East Studies Program, and the Department of Politics.
Various student organizations are also planning dedicated spaces in the coming days for community members to gather on campus, pray, reflect, mourn, and support each other. I encourage you to watch for announcements and more information about these conversations and opportunities to engage with members of our community.
Please take care of yourself and each other during this time. Thank you for recognizing and embracing the sacredness of every human life. Thank you for your prayers and for working toward a just future for us all.