Dear Campus Community:
World Kindness Day is this Saturday, Nov. 13. I would like the Westfield State University community to use this observance as a reminder to be—as the day suggests—kind and respectful. To many, that may seem like a simple message. In today’s society, however, and in a culture that many could describe as unforgiving, simply being kind is important.
Today, Nov. 9, the University's Lifetime Owls group will host Kindness Night in Scanlon Banquet Hall from 6 to 8:30 p.m., where our community members will participate in activities to spread kindness around campus.
Among the activities, students will fill out cards to share with fellow community members that they appreciate. Other activities include Bingo, a photo booth, a nametag raffle with prizes, and trivia. The Senior Luck of the Draw scholarship will be announced, too.
This Friday, also in observance of World Kindness Day, Student Affairs will host several events focused on the theme, “No Act of Kindness Is Ever Wasted.” Kindness Postcards will enable campus community members to reach out to each other. A Kindness Tree in Ely Campus Center will display random acts of kindness on campus. A social media campaign, “Kindness Is Contagious,” will recognize individuals’ acts of kindness.
The theme for the first year of my presidency is, “Building Our Bridge to the Future: Restoring Our Health.” When we think of our health, I encourage us to consider our own physical, mental, and emotional health, but also that of others with whom we interact on campus, in our greater community, and online.
Response to Bias Incidents
In the wake of this semester’s bias incidents on campus and the cringe-worthy headlines from across the state, nation, and around the globe, I ask us to commit to strengthening our level of respect for one another. I also encourage members of the campus community to participate in the Racism Discussion Panel scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Loughman Living Room. Organized by Westfield State’s Communication Club, discussions will explore implicit and passive racism, social media, and racism on campus and elsewhere.
In the meantime, our work continues toward developing a campus-wide campaign to stamp out racism and bullying on campus and social media.
Other related updates:
- I have asked faculty and staff to modernize the former Bias Incidence Response Team. The current model—now named Bias Education Support Team (BEST)—will serve as a formalized support mechanism and approach until we create and implement the Division of Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI) later this academic year, as recommended through the UEAAC process. Look for more information about BEST soon.
- Student Government Association leadership is actively working with presidential cabinet members to develop an anti-bullying campaign.
- I have connected with Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, and we are finalizing plans for anti-racism training for the Cabinet and deans. We have also reached out to The Potter’s Wheel to inquire about training for faculty and staff. And, Student Affairs is researching the best implementation plan for mandatory bias training for students.
- To bring the anti-bias conversation beyond the Westfield State campus, we will reach out to partners in the City of Westfield to develop a community approach to thwarting bias acts in our area. Bias events are not isolated to our campus, so our shared response should be broader.
I hope these efforts on our campus beyond will synergize with the planning efforts of Westfield State’s affinity student groups, including the Black Student Union and the Jewish Student Organization, among others. Father Warren Savage and the Interfaith Center team have been a significant source of support and guidance for these student groups as they put much thought and energy toward developing an anti-bias event for the spring.
In the meantime, please embrace and carry with you the World Kindness Day themes by which you will be surrounded this week, and continue to elevate the level of respect you have for yourself and for others on campus and beyond.
One final note: I applaud the student-athletes, coaches, and staff who came together to develop a video to promote inclusion and unity.