The tsunami and MSU

01-09-2005

The world changed on the evening of December 25th. An earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean set off a devastating tsunami that took some 150,000 lives and irrevocably changed many millions more.

The magnitude of such an event is difficult to comprehend. It is important that we gather and focus our mental and emotional energies to figure out how we best respond to a human tragedy of such incredible proportions.

Like the events of September 11, 2001, the indelible images of the tsunami and its aftermath can’t help but change each one of us and how we see the world. As members of the global community and as a university with countless ties to the people and the places that suffered these incalculable losses, we share in their grief.

But as is often the case in times of crisis, we turn to our core ideals and values to help us cope and to find a resolve and a renewed sense of purpose to guide our actions. As a university, in particular as a land-grant university, we offer our knowledge, our expertise and our resources in support of those who need them the most. It’s not just what we do, it’s who we are.

I also think it’s important that we find ways to deal with our individual feelings as part of the larger MSU community. Many of us have spent time in private reflection, we’ve offered our support in the form of donations, we’ve talked to friends and family, we’ve tried to find ways to make sense of it all.

On campus, we’re addressing this in a variety of ways. I’m e-mailing and calling MSU alumni in the affected areas. I’m grateful for the efforts of student groups who are already coming together to mobilize support for relief efforts from within the MSU community. And because an event like this has such a broad impact in so many ways and in so many places, a faculty committee will be meeting this week to determine how best to integrate discussions of this tragedy into classrooms across the campus.

Finally, I want to encourage you to join me at a community candlelight vigil on the evening of Wednesday, January 12th. We’ll gather outside of the Wharton Center to demonstrate our solidarity with the victims of this tragedy. From there, we will proceed to Wharton’s Great Hall for comments and reflections from community and religious leaders from across the greater Lansing area.

I hope to see you there.

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