Message from Provost Brent Carbajal
Western Washington University is a caring place. We proudly assert that “Western Cares,” and I believe that we do more than just talk about it – we act. Our students, staff, and faculty express empathy and support for our communities in many ways. During the two weeks since the presidential election, we’ve seen that empathy and support redoubled and urgently emphasized. I would expect nothing less of us.
President Randhawa’s message of November 18th reminds us of a number of Western’s commitments, reiterates our values, and provides an introduction to resources and information that I think will be helpful as we move forward. My intent here is not to repeat that earlier statement, but rather to provide a certain inventory of resources and guidelines that might assist us as we navigate complicated post-election realities. Meaningful and constructive conversations have occurred everyday on campus since the election (and even before it), and we certainly know that these important dialogues should continue. Given the sensitivity and divisiveness of the current political environment, it’s important that we remain respectful of different points of view and perspectives – in classrooms and outside them – and that we endeavor to “meet people where they are,” broadening and expanding our perspective(s) in the process. I often hear the question “what can I do to support our students?” I think listening and engaging in these conversations is a primary way of providing or facilitating that support. Of course, we need to remain vigilant about the parameters of appropriate use of State resources if we engage in advocacy of a political nature, and we should always be sensitive to the diversity of the contexts in which our support might be communicated. These constraints, though, should not discourage us from fostering and effecting support for all members of our community, especially for those most vulnerable at any given point in time. In that spirit, please accept the information below as deriving from the principles our university president put forth in his message – those of respect, understanding, and compassion.
-To begin with, I want to highlight the newly created “Caring Community” website. This website houses information about and connections to many types of resources for our entire campus. There’s an FAQ section of the site, campus safety information, reporting contacts, and more. We’re hopeful that this website will serve to disseminate important information about any number of topics and that it will be a resource upon which we build over time. The website is available here: https://wp.wwu.edu/cfwc/.
-As previously announced, we’ve established a telephone “help line” at (360) 650-3773.
-The Western “Caring Community Space” has now been established in the Viking Union, Room 714. This is a designated space for students, staff, and faculty. More information about the space, its scheduling, and possible future programming for it is forthcoming.
-Faculty are aware of the impact that the stress and emotional strain of the current political environment can have on students. The Social Justice Committee of the Faculty Senate has been working on resources concerning classroom discussion facilitation and coordination of listening sessions. Essentially, these will provide assistance and advice about how to handle difficult topics. In addition to this reminder about the need for faculty to be aware of and sensitive to all students in their classrooms when discussing post-election issues (a sensitivity that might include the need to frame classroom silence on certain events or issues, this to preclude the possibility of widely varying interpretations of that silence), I’ll let you know here that the Social Justice Committee is putting together more resources now, with further information forthcoming. How to provide more resources along this line is also now being discussed in Academic Affairs.
With my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Break,