To the Campus Community:
Over the past few months, we have seen the horrifying news reports of communities targeted for their faith or race, all heartbreaking but seemingly far away from Los Angeles: A Pittsburgh synagogue, Black churches in Louisiana, New Zealand mosques and churches in Sri Lanka. This past Saturday’s attack in a San Diego synagogue unfortunately brought this heinous violence closer to UCLA, as we learned that one of our students was there with her parents when her mother was shot and killed.
Her mother, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, was a UCLA alumna. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved Lori and I hope that those of you who know her daughter will offer the kindness and understanding she will need in the months and years ahead. We join other compassionate communities in grieving the loss of life caused, once again, by an act of bigotry and hate. While the pain pierces more deeply when our own community is victimized, we must also remember that hatred directed at any one group makes all of us more vulnerable.
We also cannot ignore the larger context for so much of this violence. Intensifying rhetoric, both in our nation and abroad, coupled with a rise in White nationalism, has fomented resentment of ethnic minorities and led to increases in anti-Semitism and hate crimes in general, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League.
As reasonable individuals and as members of a university community, we must continue to work each day to understand differences and fully embrace the humanity of others. When we do that, we affirm the dignity of life for all people in our community.
For anyone struggling with feelings of grief, fear or even anger in the aftermath of Saturday’s tragedy, please make use of university resources. Students should contact UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services or the Dean of Students. Staff and faculty can access the UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center. Please be compassionate to each other in these hard days and remember that through acts of goodwill and integrity we can make these days better.
Gene D. Block