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Support for the unimaginable

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

First and foremost, we send thoughts of care and concern for all affected by the recent tragedies on grounds at the University of Virginia and the murders of four university students in Idaho. It is beyond heartbreaking for students to have to worry about and live through such violence during what should be one of the most exciting times of their lives.

I am not going to expound on the need for legislation to prevent such gun violencesuffice to say what we have in place policy-wise does not seem to be working if events like these continue to occur.

What I will suggest is that we collectively reflect on these experiences and support each other. I am aware the sad stories of the past few days may remind some in our Mason Science community, our families, co-workers, and friends, of other such events and sudden loss. I encourage you to please be there for them as we collectively process what has happened and work towards some semblance of healing.

For those of you like me who are action-oriented yet not sure how to help, I reference the recent email from Mason President Gregory Washington, who provided some steps we should each take to prepare if such an unimaginable occurrence were to happen on one of our campuses.

“For the Mason community, I offer assurance that we are constantly working to prevent and, if necessary, respond quickly to such tragedies. We have the protection and support of campus, local, and regional law enforcement, emergency response protocols that we have practiced, and an array of support services readily available to those in need.”

I know I have and, if you have not already done so, please consider taking a few minutes to register for Mason AlertActive Threat Training , and review our Active Threat Preparedness Resources. Staying connected during these times is so very important. Our university recently undertook several trainings and exercises to test the systems and decision hierarchy, and Mason’s materials continue to be updated.

If you have not developed a plan to connect with your family, friends, or coworkers to confirm your and their safety and wellbeing on a regular basis, I encourage you to make it a point to construct one and share it with them. And take a moment to reach out to those you care about who may have been directly affected.

As you do so, be sure also to take time for your own self-care. Mason offers a number of well-being resources, including a new offering called TimelyCare. This is a free service for students that offers virtual, 24/7 on-demand high quality mental health care from anywhere.

President Washington noted that “UVA and Idaho face a tough road ahead to heal and regain the normalcy that has been taken from them. I ask everyone in Mason Nation to hold them in your hearts. Look for opportunities to support your friends or family who are connected to those communities.”

It is in difficult times like this when we come to appreciate what matters most to each of us.  ~

-FMW