A Message from President Wong: November 16, 2015

To the SF State Community,

The recent attacks in France, a deadly explosion in Lebanon and the destruction of a Russian passenger jet are jarring reminders that peace continues to evade our grasp in such sad and terrible ways. Among the deaths in Paris was that of Nohemi Gonzalez, a senior at California State University, Long Beach described by her former professors as a mentor to younger students and a shining star in her department. My heart aches for Nohemi’s family and friends, as it does for all the people of Paris, Russia and Lebanon who lost loved ones to such hateful acts. 

What a relief to learn this weekend that none of the 35 SF State students studying abroad in France were harmed. While I am thankful that they are all safe today, my thoughts remain with the families of those who were not so fortunate. 

There is no sense to be made of senseless acts of violence ­­­­­-- no message of hope to be taken from such evil acts. But among all the disturbing images of the aftermath, I found myself buoyed by a news clip showing Parisians leaving an international soccer match. As they filed out of the Stade de France side by side singing their national anthem, I was reminded that even the most heinous acts of terrorism can never rob us of the values we hold dear.

This week our flag flies at half-staff to mark the loss to our CSU family and to show our solidarity with the people of France. At difficult times like this, I urge members of the SF State community to take advantage of campus counseling and other support services. 

The campus is coming together tomorrow night at Malcolm X Plaza from 5-7 p.m. for the SF State Vigil Against Violence in honor of Nohemi and all the other bright lights extinguished too soon. It will be a time when we can come together as one community and celebrate the values we share, in direct opposition to those of the perpetrators of these attacks: tolerance, understanding and peace.

Les Wong
San Francisco State University