I am deeply saddened and troubled with the news of the violence in Orlando.
I was struck by this senseless tragedy, and how the action of an individual impacts us so intensely. As NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) President Kevin Kruger put it: “Already many of our GLBTQ persons of color have limited spaces to feel safe, visible, and affirmed. An attack like this underscores the feelings of isolation that many of our GLBTQ people of color already experience.”
However, the work of individuals can have a magnified, positive influence on all of us as well. UH West Oʻahu’s mission states that we are a “diverse and inclusive indigenous-serving institution,” with a vision of including “all individuals is reflected in the institution's culture, practices, and relationships.” How can our UH West Oʻahu community respond not only to this specific event, but other similarly insensitive sentiments that others may share?
We can always do more.
I highly encourage our faculty, staff, and students to get involved in helping our campus cultivate programs that embrace diversity, and make this campus a safe place. To aid these efforts on our campus, UH West Oʻahu will shortly convene a Campus Awareness/Programming Team (CAPT) of students, faculty, and staff, including representatives from UHWO’s Campus Security, Chancellor’s Office, Communications, Counseling, Health Services, Human Resources, Student Affairs, Student Life, and Student Compliance. The purpose of CAPT is to increase awareness of issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, and provide resources to prevent interpersonal violence, promote safety, and reduce perpetration. Thanks to the dedicated hard work of students, faculty, and staff, we have held annual events such as Walk a Mile in Their Shoes—the awareness march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. The CAPT team will identify and coordinate our campus-wide effort to provide programming and awareness campaigns throughout the year.
The recent tragedy in Orlando, which may seem distant due to its geography, should emphasize the need for all of us to be our best selves, serving in the best interest of our campus community and its individuals – however persons identify their race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.
If we truly take pride in diversity on this campus, let us work together to extend our valued principle of ensuring safety and inclusion for all persons.