To Our Washington University Community:
I have heard, seen and share the uneasiness that is being felt as the St. Louis region continues to face an exceptionally challenging time. We all have been affected by the shooting death of Michael Brown in August. Now, we await a grand jury decision in Police Officer Darren Wilson’s case. There are many unknowns and emotions are running high. While we cannot predict what will happen in the days and weeks to come, we are taking the situation seriously. It is important that you know we have resources available to support you, and also that we are well-prepared to respond as necessary to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. This remains our highest priority.
Over the past couple of months, a group of university leaders has been carefully reviewing our Emergency Response Plan, and we are poised to react quickly and effectively now or in the future. The current situation has given us an opportunity to double-check our procedures and protocols, and although we continue to hope for calm in our community, we have solid infrastructure in place to manage an emergency. Through the Washington University Police Department, we also have strong working relationships and open lines of communication with surrounding law enforcement organizations. Again, it is impossible to know what might occur, but we are taking every possible precaution to be prepared. My sincerest thanks to the Washington University Police Department and many others who have been working tirelessly to respond to the current situation and position us well for the future.
At the same time, we also have been focused on finding solutions and contributing to long-term systemic change in St. Louis. This is the time to do better, be better, and become stronger as a community. We will do our part.
If you need help coping with stress or other issues during this difficult time, I hope you will reach out to one of our available resources. Students, please do not hesitate to contact your advisor or student health services anytime (Students on the Danforth campus should call 314-935-6666. Students on the Medical School campus should call 314-362-3523). Faculty and staff, I encourage you to access the university’s Employee Assistance Program, which provides 24/7 confidential support at 800-765-9124. If you want to participate in activities on- or off-campus, please do so safely and thoughtfully. If you have thoughts to share, please join our on-going Wash U Voices conversation by contributing a blog post, leaving a comment, or participating on social media.
My greatest hope is that, through this tragedy, the region finds a peaceful path to a brighter future.
Mark S. Wrighton