There is so much going on around us and for many it is probably hard to believe that we still need to continue the day-to-day work of the college in the midst of all the crises and conflicts that are enveloping us. I think President Hanno’s last message captures so eloquently what we as a college can and should do. In the coming days you will hear about some of the ways we can dig into this work. You will be invited to engage only to the extent that you are able, but hopefully in ways that stretch you a little. I’m still working out the kinks but soon I will be asking for partners interested in creating a resource for all of us—part annotated bibliography and living document with links to audio, video, readings, social media posts, presentations, and more and incorporating as many disciplines as possible. My goal is to build something that we can use to make sense of the explosive moment we are in. There are some great examples we can draw from. For example, Paula Krebs (Executive Director of the Modern Languages Association), a friend and colleague to many, has started a Humanities Commons site some may find interesting.
I believe that we have an obligation to grapple with how we discuss these complex, vexing and contentious questions with one another so we can be prepared to do so with our students. Beyond that, I believe the obligations we have to one another are sui generis. We are a network of scholars and artists who can find succor with each other and who must confront the possible effects of what we are witnessing on one another. We can redouble efforts to create institutional practices that are true to Wheaton and true to our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Regardless of one’s political stance I would hope that we can all see the urgent need to hold tight to the bonds that connect us to one another, to repudiate acts of dehumanization that erase selfhood, and to use the incredible privilege we have as educators to ask hard questions and seek a better future for us all.
Renée T. White