From the President: Working Together Against Hate
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Dear campus community,
I find myself yet again writing to you at a moment of great tragedy in the U.S. I am profoundly sad at how regularly I have had to do this in my twenty months as your president. Last week’s tragic shooting in Atlanta was followed by this week’s shooting in Colorado—leaving 18 dead. All 18 leave devastated families and communities. Six of the eight victims in Atlanta were women of Asian descent, exemplifying the critical need to support all efforts to Stop AAPI Hate. While the motive in Colorado remains unclear, we can add to the list of pandemics we are fighting the growing mental health crisis in the U.S., as well as the need for a nonpartisan, public health-driven conversation about gun control. It is really hard to be hopeful just now.
I have found glimmers of hope and progress, though. Rob Bonta was appointed this week to serve as California’s attorney general. The first Filipino-American to hold the position, Bonta’s parents were civil rights activists, working alongside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Philip Veracruz. And as always, I’ve also seen hope in meetings with students, staff and faculty. The SF State community has long known how to turn pain and rage into action. Last weekend’s protests across the nation, record-level donations to progressive organizations fighting hatred and intolerance and the individual and collective activism of the SF State community demonstrate paths forward. I am grateful, as always, to the many people who have taken time to speak with me over the last few weeks, particularly the Asian American Studies students and faculty who took time during their spring breaks to meet with me. We will move forward with plans to strengthen civilian campus safety programs, add more psychological counselors and implement more anti-hate educational initiatives, among other suggestions. In the coming weeks, I will share more with you about the concrete actions that the University will take to become an even stronger hate-free zone.
This week marks the 241st anniversary of the passing of the 1790 Naturalization Act limiting citizenship to “free white person(s)” – a sad milestone in the history of white supremacy in the U.S. While some of this history has been reshaped thanks to generations of civil rights activists, it is horribly clear that much remains to be done. As I see the dozens of events that students, staff and faculty are mounting, as I watch the solidarity that has marked SF State’s responses, and as I hear all ask to work with the University for change, I remain confident that “ordinary people” can change the path of history. We are far, though, from ordinary. I share your desires to see SF State become even more extraordinary and look forward to the work.
As always, I conclude with wishes for good health (and a vaccine appointment!).
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.