A Thanksgiving Message from President Hallick
This started out as a letter to our students, and it still (mostly) is, but in truth I also mean it as a message to everyone in the Pacific community. As we look ahead to Thanksgiving weekend, I want to let you know how much I care about each and every one of you, and how thankful I am for the genuine compassion you show one another every day.
I have heard from many of you concerned about recent world and local events, and I want you to know that the administration and our Board of Trustees are committed to ensuring a safe, inclusive environment for everyone here at Pacific. This does not come without compassion, patience, and effort on all of our parts. If at any time, you do not feel your view is being heard, I hope that you will share your perspective or contact me so that we can expand the conversation.
In this spirit, I am very pleased to see that the Student Counseling Center and Office of Campus Wellness have prepared a guide to help you stay healthy as the holiday season begins, wherever your travels may take you. Additionally, the Center for Civic Engagement will host an encore presentation of its tips for students who may be a bit nervous about spending time with family and friends who have different opinions or perspectives. Of course we could all use these skills in our discussions on campus as well! I invite you to join director Stephanie Stokamer and other faculty members for a special teach-in session in the University Center lounge today (Tuesday) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to learn more about how you can manage certain social situations.
As I have participated in numerous discussions with students, faculty, staff, and family over the past two weeks, I have shared a few perspectives that come with age and experience. I will not presume to tell you how to feel, but I will just share my observation that any major effort worth accomplishing has moments of great satisfaction, as well as setbacks that threaten to derail your convictions. But in the end we keep moving forward and, when you have the benefit of looking back for a few decades, you see that incredible progress has been made.
One of my core beliefs is that the best life you can lead is to be a local hero, to impact the world that you are able to make better. With no intention of endorsing any particular politics, I am going to quote our current president, because I simply could not have put it better. When President Obama was interviewed recently for an article in The New Yorker, he was asked what he told his daughters after the election. My understanding is that his response was:
“What I say to them is that people are complicated,” Obama told the interviewer. “Societies and cultures are really complicated … This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop … You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”
It is more important than ever that we continue to show kindness and respect for everyone at Pacific. I, for one, want you to know that I appreciate the unique voices and perspectives each of you brings to our community. Please reach out to me via email or just come see me — I am always looking for better ways to connect, and I welcome your suggestions about how we can be more helpful. As we take our first holiday break of the season, let us extend that kindness and respect outward. And know that you are always a welcome and valued part of our Pacific family and that I will do my best to protect you, so that you can make the most of your educational experience here.
Lesley M. Hallick, PhD