A Guiding Light in Dark Times

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

As we begin a new year, we find ourselves again navigating turbulent times. The consequences of climate change threaten communities and ecosystems as wildfires consume Australia. The U.S. Congress voted to impeach the president as concerns about threats to democracy spread. And, most recently, unstable relations between the U.S. and Iran have resulted in tragedy and pain. Our thoughts are first with the families and victims of those tragically killed in the downing of a Ukranian airliner and with the Iranians and Iranian Americans who may find themselves victims of discrimination and harassment, including those who have been detained at our borders.

This rocky start to 2020 can leave many, especially young people, feeling as if the world is on the verge of collapse. As always, though, San Francisco State University can provide a source of light at dark moments. In recent weeks, I have been struck by how the nation has turned to our faculty for understanding and guidance. Professors Persis Karim and Mahmood Monshipouri have provided national media outlets with historical and contemporary contexts for the conflict and its consequences for the Iranian and Iranian American communities. Our faculty, departments and units, including the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, serve as important academic resources and offer support for Iranian and Iranian American students, staff and faculty. As an institution based on academic excellence and social justice, we serve as a model of an inclusive community. All are welcome here. Students, faculty and staff concerned about the national climate and its effect on our campus climate are urged to contact the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion.

On Monday, San Francisco State and the rest of the nation celebrated the transformative work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let us look to Dr. King for guidance as we think about our role in turbulent and tragic times. As an institution of higher education it is our role to educate. Dr. King noted that “nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Our job is to make people think and think hard — question their assumptions, draw complex conclusions based on fact and not ignorance, and take pains to understand others. No university is better poised to do this than SF State as an academic community driven by social justice and devoted to inclusive excellence and serving our communities.

I thank you for all you do to make this a great university!