Speeches & Commentary

Solidarity and support for our community

Watch Video

Dear Washington University community,

At a time when we are already facing a number of difficult issues in our country and in our community, the past few weeks have felt especially heavy. Like many of you, I have found myself struggling to wrap my head around what feels like a never-ending series of tragedies and unthinkable events that seem to just keep coming: The gut-wrenching testimony recounting the final minutes of George Floyd’s life and the pending outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis; the killings at the hands of police of Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright, two young people whose lives were senselessly cut short; and mass shootings including the murder of Asian Americans in Atlanta and the impact on the Sikh community in Indianapolis in the recent shooting there, reminding us all of the scourge of gun violence in our country – violence that far too often targets members of vulnerable communities.

Words can only do so much to ease the stress and heartache that many of you are feeling. But I do want to take this opportunity to offer my support and remind you that, as a university community, we stand in solidarity with all who are hurting, and we are here for one another, especially in these trying times.

It is important for all of us to know that whatever happens, we are a place that is rooted in our core values. We stand unequivocally against hate, racism, and discrimination in any form. We care deeply about those who are suffering, regardless of whether they have a direct connection to our community. We care about each other. We are committed to putting our values into action however possible to help create needed change, both within ourselves as individuals, and collectively in our community, country, and world.

These values are unyielding truths. They will not change and are always there. We are a community of empathy and action. As your chancellor, I want you to know that I feel a great responsibility for ensuring that Washington University lives its values. We will lean into these values as we strive to be a community that is united in our determination to work toward positive change.

There are resources available for anyone in our community who is in need of support. Counseling is available for students through the Habif Health and Wellness Center on the Danforth Campus and Student Health Service on the Medical Campus, and for faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program, Work-Life Solutions. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Diversity Programs, and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion also host regular opportunities for our community to come together to reflect, and we will plan special programming as circumstances deem appropriate. Please keep an eye on communications from the schools and other units to learn more as gatherings and other opportunities for engagement are planned. I encourage everyone to consider reaching out and participating if it would be helpful to you.

Especially during times of great difficulty and chaos, we must remember to lean on each other. Even though we are still not able to be together physically on campus at this time, we all should take comfort in knowing that we are here for one another, if not in person, then assuredly in spirit. The strength of our community and our core values will be our guiding light as we find our way through whatever may come.


Andrew D. Martin