CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
On Oct. 24, two African Americans were gunned down in a Kroger parking lot in Kentucky, because of the color of their skin. The following Saturday, 11 Jewish Americans were slaughtered during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh simply because of their religion. In response to these tragedies, Whittier College, staying true to Quaker values, hosted a community reflection, in which Poets were encouraged to share their emotions and thoughts.
President Oubré, along with her husband, arrived at the Bonnie Bell Wardman Library to lead the reflection, and facilitate an open discussion in which the events of the week were able to be processed in a healthy community environment. President Oubré, the organizer of the event, stressed the importance of community and unity following tragedies such as the shootings in Kentucky and Pittsburgh. Oubré remarked on her pride in the Poet Community and in our ability to come together in the face of tragedy. “I am most proud of how the Poet Community continues to come together. Our students, staff, and faculty truly live by the example embodied in our Quaker roots– that all humans have value and that we must continue to fight for peace and social justice.”
Students and faculty alike were in attendance, and shared in the community moment of silence. For a full minute, the room was filled with silence, as members of the community were able to reflect internally on the events of the week. Too often, we are caught up in the fast pace of life, and lack the ability to sit in quiet reflection. However, following the horrors of the week, a moment of silence was done both out of respect for those who were killed, and also as a way for those in attendance to take a moment for themselves to gather their thoughts. Following the moment of silence, President Oubré invited all members of the gathering to share their opinions or thoughts, if they so desired.
With students and staff seated in a circle and sharing their emotions as equals, the gathering created a safe and accepting environment, which is imperative to have in response to horrors such as the tragedies of the past week. Faculty members, seeking to provide their students with support, shared their goals as educators in the diverse and accepting environment of Whittier College. Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Anjeanette LeBoeuf said, “In times of such blatant hatred and continual attempts to keep communities divided, it is so important that we take time to find ways to come together . . . as a religious studies professor, one of my main goals is to provide a safe place in my classroom for students to experience other religions, cultures, and peoples in a positive and constructive way. I have found that one of the best ways to combat hatred and injustice is through education and compassion.”
As the gathering came to an end, students and faculty members were each given a handout, provided by the Counseling Center, on self care in the midst of grief. In times of great tragedy, such as in the aftermath of the events of the following week, it is important to be aware of the resources that are available if you are in need of help. The Counseling Center can be reached at 562.907.4239, and professional counseling staff is on call 24/7.
The Jewish Student Union will be hosting a Shabbat Dinner on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. located at Hartley House. The event is free to all students and faculty, and is a great way to come together as a community.