Supporting one another: a message from the Dean

Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Crowd gathered in Arts Quad with rainbow painted on ground nearby

Below is the video recording and transcript of Dean Sheila Ager's remarks at the June 29, 2023 Community Gathering in the Arts Quad — showing support for and solidarity with the professor and students who were violently attacked in Hagey Hall on June 28.

Remote video URL

Transcript of remarks

Hello everyone. I would like to begin by acknowledging how dreadful yesterday's assault was for those who experienced the trauma firsthand, both the injured and those who witnessed the attack. And these events have, of course, also caused deep distress to everyone throughout our faculty and university community and beyond. This was a profoundly dreadful and deeply traumatizing event. I thank God no lives were lost, but the impact is still terrible.

It is hard to understand this level of hate and violence. A campus is meant to be a safe place for our students, faculty and staff. And yesterday, that sense of safety was violated. So, thank you for being here to stand up in solidarity, to denounce any form of hate, discrimination or violence. As we collectively process this hate-motivated attack, I know you may be experiencing a lot of anger, sadness and feelings of despair. Personally, I am shocked and grieved by what happened, and I also acknowledge that I am angry, even enraged, at what appears to have been a hate crime.

I know that anger will not go away easily, but I will have to move it into more productive channels that will challenge the kind of hate and discrimination that results in such actions. Right now, I do believe that the most important action for all of us is to join with each other in providing our care and support, not only for those directly impacted but for our community as a whole.

I am grateful for the immediate action of first responders and the IMPACT mental health crisis team who arrived to support the students in the class very soon after the incident. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact counselling services. If you need to step away from your work or your studies temporarily, as the president remarked, that's okay, especially to those in our community who are disproportionately impacted by this attack.

And we also urge all members of the community, especially our leadership team and faculty members, to be considerate, understanding and supportive of the individuals involved as they navigate through this traumatic event. I am also so grateful to our students who have come together to support each other in this difficult time. Thank you for the care and compassion you have shown to each other.

Please do not stop reaching out and speaking out when you need help. We all need to lean on each other right now. And as I look across the crowd today, I see colleagues from every faculty, students and members of our wider community. We collectively represent shared values and resiliency, and all of us are here to support one another.