Navigating Crises TogetherOctober 12, 2023
Dear Harvey Mudd Community,
Sometimes, our world can be a very brutal place.
Watching the terrible scenes of devastation across Israel and Gaza has deeply impacted us all. We’ve seen people who have lost their family and friends grieve openly. We’ve seen them share their concern about those who they can’t reach and those who are missing. Innocent men, women and children have been attacked and killed. People are afraid. The reasons behind all this—like so often is the case—are incredibly complicated.
Yet, before this crisis, our news was filled with daily footage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; we watched as war destroyed entire cities and drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. We’ve seen how conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region forced tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians to flee their homes. We’ve seen M23 rebels reemerge to wreak havoc in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are crises impacting people all over the world.
Closer to home, in recent weeks we’ve watched the Climate Crisis become more real as temperatures on land and in our oceans reached new highs, historic hurricanes and tropical storms pounded the Northeast, and wildfires destroyed entire cities in Maui. Hundreds have been displaced or killed. In our personal lives, some of us have watched as friends and loved ones face down incredible obstacles to their physical and mental health and well-being. It can be overwhelming.
As a person, I find myself grieving and struggling to make sense of it all. As president of Harvey Mudd, no words from me seem up to the task of addressing the hurt you may feel. I know from speaking with many of you, that you also have trouble sometimes finding the right things to say in times like these. Yet, what I come back to again and again are all the wonderful things you’ve told me about how supportive our community is.
We are focused on educating STEM leaders who also excel at life. People who can find ways to reach across what divides us to find common ground. People who want to change this world for the better—who want to understand the biggest challenges facing society so that they can develop innovative solutions to make lives better. We know that it will take time and hard work, but anything worth having is worth it.
In the meantime, if you or someone you know are hurting—about this or any of the crises facing you—I encourage you to connect with someone who can help. If you are a student, you can contact MCAPS, reach out to 7C.Health, or talk to your proctor, mentor or a member of thestaff in DSA. If you are a member of the faculty or staff, you can speak to your colleagues, your supervisor, our Human Resources staff, or anonymously to someone through our Optum Employee Assistance Program, who can connect you with resources.
We can only navigate these crises when we acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. That despite all the many ways we are different from one another, we also are all human beings who care deeply about one another and about the world around us.
We are all looking for how we can help make things better. As a community, we must seek ways to reach out across what divides us so that we can learn from one another and grow together. We must find the grace and space to grieve, to comfort one another, and to learn from each other.
You are not alone. Together, we will find ways to get through this.
Harriet B. Nembhard