Caring for others, caring for ourselves
On June 1, Wendy Smooth, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Gretchen Ritter, executive dean and vice provost, sent the messages below to College of Arts and Sciences students, faculty and staff.
Dear Arts and Sciences students, faculty and staff,
This weekend was tough. I moved between educating, listening to and discussing with my 12-year-old African American son and attempting to protect the precious innocence of my 6-year-old daughter. In between, I wept. I found myself stealing away to mourn the loss of George Floyd’s life, to continue mourning the recent losses of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and to mourn the outrage of my community and our nation as we experience what has become the all too familiar – the killing of another unarmed Black person. As much as I like to think of these incidents as happening in other cities far away from my home here, Columbus also has its own sordid history of police violence. These heart wrenching, horrific, bitterly painful scenes continue to occur and layer upon a historic and present trauma in the hearts and minds of black and brown people and all those who believe in justice, fairness, and humanity for all.
In our own city of Columbus, protestors took to the streets to raise collective voices against racism, injustice and pain. Their protest, their marching was met with force on the part of some police. I watched while young people – some of them our own students, our staff, and faculty, family members, neighbors and friends – were sprayed by police with pepper spray and wooden bullets. These are difficult images to take in, and it is even more difficult to feel the pain of injustice so many of us are experiencing so deeply.
These are tough times. We are not immune to the world around us. These losses, the violence, the protests come while we are also fighting for our lives and those of our loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the globe, impacting communities of color among the hardest. We are all impacted, some more directly than others. Today, I ask that we embrace the moment in which we find ourselves. I encourage you to check in with our students, staff and faculty. Just as we encourage you to check in on how those in our community are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must check in on the well-being of our fellow Buckeyes in this moment. Some of us are feeling the excruciating effects of the last week very personally; however, we all are mired by the loss of civility throughout the nation.
As some of you prepare to take or teach classes this summer, please be aware of the moment in which we find ourselves by acknowledging and making space for these issues in our learning spaces. You might think about how your course materials offer ways to process these issues, you might include current events readings, you might make space for students to discuss what they are experiencing. Remember as a learning venue, we are a crucial space for upholding what is forward thinking in our society. We in Arts and Sciences have a vital role to play, because we are charged with the responsibility to train and to cultivate critical thinkers.
While my heart is heavy, my resolve to continue creating a community in which we all are included, respected and valued regardless of our differences is ever more strong. A few years ago during another moment of great loss, Buckeyes embraced the phrase, “Buckeye Strong.” In this moment, I encourage you to think of “Buckeye Strong” as caring for others and caring for ourselves, which may include the sometimes difficult task of asking for help. Below you will find a list of resources that can help in addressing the mental health stressors we may experience through these times.
Associate Dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion
Dear Arts and Sciences community,
I echo the heartfelt sentiments of Associate Dean Wendy Smooth. Similarly, I have watched the events of this past week unfold with sadness, dismay and disappointment. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was tragic and wrong. It was also a reminder of other occasions in recent years where we saw that skin color still matters in ways that it should not, and that our nation’s aspirational commitments to equality and justice for all sometimes fall short.
Having this occur in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it all the more difficult. All of us are at risk, but the impact of the virus has been felt more severely in some communities (communities of color, low income communities, increasingly in rural communities) than others. As I said last month in my graduation remarks, the pandemic is a lesson in human interdependence and the risks that come when we fail to recognize how increased vulnerabilities in some populations have implications for us all.
My hope for healing and moving forward to a more positive future begins with a willingness to undertake sometimes difficult dialogue in a context of care for one another. As Wendy Smooth writes, “While my heart is heavy, my resolve to continue creating a community in which we all are included, respected and valued regardless of our differences is ever more strong.” Preparing our students for democratic citizenship often means encouraging thoughtful discussion about challenging issues, and always means asking that the members of our community to be respectful and inclusive of one another as we pursue a pathway to a better future.
Where appropriate, talk to your peers, students and colleagues about the events of this past week and the challenges we are facing here in Columbus, across the nation, and in the world. Take time to process the hurt, anger and confusion that many are feeling. Looking out for one another with kindness is part of being Buckeye Strong.
Executive Dean and Vice Provost
Please instruct students, faculty, and staff to report any and all acts of discrimination to the Office of Institutional Equity at equity.osu.edu.
The Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) remains available to our students. If students need to speak with a counselor urgently or need other resources, please call 614-292-5766 at any time. After hours, press 2 to be connected to a counselor.
Students may also access the Buckeye Peer Access Line (PAL), which operates Monday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight, and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m.
The Wilce Student Life Health Services Center remains open and students may access their services by appointment here.
The Collegiate Recovery Community will continue serving any Ohio State student in or seeking recovery. In an effort to support social distancing efforts, all support services will be provided virtually. If you are interested in learning more about the services being provided and how to access the different services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students may access the Ohio State: Wellness app via download for iOS or Android devices.
For Faculty & Staff
The Ohio State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), in partnership with ImpactSolutions, provides resources for employees and their families in times of need. All services are confidential, complimentary and provided by experienced, licensed mental health professionals. EAP services are available to benefits-eligible faculty and staff, members of their household, parents and parents-in-law, even if you did not enroll in an Ohio State medical plan. Learn more about EAP at osuhealthplan.com/eap.
The tips, guides and wellness resources related to COVID-19 are also excellent resources for addressing anxiety in general and can be found through the Office of Human Resources’ new Keep Well website, the Health and Wellness page and Your Plan For Health.
The Franklin County Suicide Prevention Services and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can help anyone who is concerned about suicide – either for yourself or on behalf of another.
Franklin County Suicide Prevention Line: 614-221-5445
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Crisis Text Line: Text 4hope to 741741
A list of Ohio State suicide prevention resources can be found at https://suicideprevention.osu.edu/get-help/
The Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies maintains a list of Queer People of Color (QPOC)-friendly mental health care services in the area including suicide prevention resources.
The Ohio State: Wellness app is designed for students but offers tips and guidance useful for all members of our community.