To the Virginia Tech community,

As we prepare to leave our campuses to enjoy some time away during Thanksgiving break, I hope we will be mindful that while many of us have much to be thankful for, some in our community will spend this holiday grieving and mourning the loss of friends and family and others are struggling with sadness, anxiety, and fear.

Our thoughts and sympathies go out to members of our Blacksburg community as they mourn the tragic loss of two high school students earlier this month. We also are concerned for those in our university community who have lost friends and family in the terrorist attack on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza that has trapped civilians and hostages in the crossfire and ignited long-standing conflicts across the globe. We are deeply troubled and saddened by the loss of innocent lives and the growing Palestinian refugee crisis in Gaza and fervently hope a resolution can be found to ease the suffering and end the fighting.

As I said in my message to the Board of Visitors during the November meeting, I am proud of our university community for its stand against antisemitism and Islamophobia. I appreciate those who have chosen to peacefully assemble and express their views. As a university we will support academic freedom and free expression, even when expressed positions are hurtful to members of our community. We also will continue to condemn terrorism, genocide, targeting of civilians, taking of hostages, and the elimination of the right to practice one’s religion.

If you need support, counseling, or other assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to the resources listed below. If you feel you have been subjected to harassment or discrimination, contact our Office for Equity and Accessibility.

Virginia Tech stands on our Principles of Community and will “affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding.” Though it may be difficult in times such as these, as a university we have an obligation to actively listen, learn, and try to understand the viewpoint of others. Beginning Nov. 29, Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the Center for Humanities, in partnership with other departments and centers, will present a three-part expert panel series to provide context for a better understanding of the conflict. I hope you can participate.

As Hokies, we pursue a mission to connect our university and the commonwealth with talent and partners around the globe in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), with a responsibility to be a constructive and positive force in the world. This crisis will test our commitment to our mission. With our strength of community and spirit of service, empathy, and compassion, I am confident that Virginia Tech will rise to the challenge.

My thoughts are with you all during this holiday break, and I look forward to bringing our community back together when we return.

Tim Sands,

Members of the university community who seek support or assistance are encouraged to contact these resources:


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