University News

Chancellor Block: Empathy in the wake of tragedy

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Chancellor Gene Block sent the following message to the UCLA campus community on Oct. 29

The past week has been particularly painful for our nation. A gunman with a history of racism, who had tried to target a predominantly African-American church, murdered two African-Americans at a Kentucky grocery store. And a white nationalist stormed a Pennsylvania synagogue and murdered 11 Jewish worshipers in the deadliest incident of anti-Semitic violence in our nation’s history.

Our hearts break for the victims and their families, and we mourn with the members of these targeted communities. Racism and anti-Semitism are ugly, deeply rooted realities that endanger all of us. When anyone is victimized because of race, religion or ethnic background, we are all threatened. All of us who value American ideals are diminished when reasoned discourse is sabotaged by tribal bigotry, and when thoughtful debate devolves into brutal violence. We must all speak out and condemn bigotry when we see it.

For any of you who are feeling grief, fear, anger or any other difficult emotions at this troubling time, please know that UCLA has many resources to support you. Students may reach out to UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services and the Dean of Students. Staff and faculty may seek support at the UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center. And please know that we will continue to do all we can to keep you secure on our campus.

I urge you not to give in to despair. Instead, I hope you will reach out to those who are grieving or fearful — especially to those of a different religion or ethnic background from you — and let them know that you care about them and their well-being. And I renew my call from last month to commit ourselves to a discourse free of stereotype, ethnic bias and insult.

This is UCLA. We must set the standard for how to engage each other with integrity and respect. Universities — where we are committed to evidence-based reasoning, inclusion and mutual understanding — can be our best hope for nurturing a healthier national culture. Especially in trying times, we must remember that if people of goodwill treat one another with compassion and empathy, we can create a world that honors us all.

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