Dear Campus Community,
At Wheaton College, we are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all. In troubling times, we particularly focus on our core tenets of caring, supporting, and educating. I am reaching out to share the outcomes from our recent events, “From Reaction to Reflection,” a series provided to create community spaces for thoughtful dialogue around the impacts of the Israel-Hamas war.
Led by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the series aimed to help foster an equitable and respectful campus culture. Over three days, we listened, learned, and shared our thoughts on complex and deeply personal impacts on our community. Our esteemed faculty, Gail Sahar, Professor of Psychology, and Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, Professor of Religion, along with Coordinator Laurie Cozad, led these sessions, which were attended by 100 people, including students, faculty, and staff. The conversations focused on the varied experiences and perspectives of our Arab and Muslim students, Jewish students, and the broader Wheaton community. Through these rich and insightful discussions, we gained a deeper understanding of each other and developed greater empathy and mutual respect.
We understand that the journey toward peace and mutual understanding is long, and showing up in these spaces for reflection demonstrates our commitment to taking this journey together. We are heartened by the active participation and sincere conversations that took place, and we will continue to provide opportunities to learn and grow as a united community. Let us take a moment to appreciate the bravery it takes to engage in these dialogues and express our gratitude to all who participated. Your involvement is valuable to the ongoing process of building a campus where every voice is heard and experience is respected.
In the conversations, one consistent thread from students was safety. We stand committed against anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate. We hear you and take campus safety very seriously. Since the beginning of October, we have increased our safety checks and patrols and continue to regularly communicate with the Norton Police Department to ensure the community’s safety.
We encourage anyone experiencing safety concerns to utilize the resources available:
- Report immediate concerns 24/7 to Campus Safety (508) 286-3333 or the LiveSafe App
- Report additional concerns using the Community Reporting Options or Bias Incident Report Form
In terms of next steps to foster learning and advancement in understanding advocacy, the Provost’s Office will soon provide students with a list of Spring courses related to social issues and justice. And with the Provost’s Office, we are planning a panel on the Middle East with some faculty colleagues from Bridgewater State University.
We appreciate your participation in our goal of institutional belonging. Your insights and experiences strengthen our community’s diversity and unity.
With gratitude and anticipation for our next steps together,
Luis F. Paredes
Associate Vice President for Institutional Equity and Belonging