To the Washington University Community:
As promised, I wanted to keep you up-to-date on planning in anticipation of the grand jury decision in police officer Darren Wilson’s case. There are very strong indications that a decision could be announced later this evening. We have not received formal confirmation of that timing, however it does appear likely. Because of the unpredictability of what might transpire, we have decided it is most prudent to close our West Campus (in downtown Clayton) tomorrow, Tuesday, November 25, until further notification.
We do not know what the grand jury has decided, nor can we predict what might follow the announcement. My hope is for a peaceful and meaningful response to whatever the decision may be, and then a turn to the hard work of addressing this region’s very difficult, deep-seated challenges.
We are prepared, as best we can, to respond appropriately to any situation, with a priority on maintaining safety. As a precaution, we are initiating operations centers to more easily coordinate all of our university functions and communications so we can quickly share information with you and other members of our community. We will be very careful not to elevate words or actions beyond what is necessary to protect life, rights and property.
I ask that you be an active participant and encourage you to do the following:
- Make sure your contact information in HRMS or WebSTAC is correct in case we need to reach you by email and/or text message.
- Bookmark voices.wustl.edu, where we will be posting helpful information and regular updates at 7 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. In the event of an emergency, important notifications will be posted at emergency.wustl.edu.
- If you wish to express yourself following the announcement, give some thought to how you can do so safely and thoughtfully.
- If you need support during what I know is a stressful time, reach out to available resources, your adviser or supervisor, a friend or a family member.
We will be doing what is necessary to ensure your safety and well-being, and to maintain normal operations of the university. At the same time, we are firmly committed to supporting everyone’s right to gather peacefully and to express themselves freely. It is through the sharing of ideas and perspectives that we will become stronger as a university and a region, and we want our community to be engaged in the process. We will share additional information and guidance as it becomes available.
Soon, our focus must turn to addressing the tough, but surmountable issues that have divided the region for so long. It is time to come together. And Washington University will be part of that effort.
I know you join me in hoping for peaceful days ahead. At this time of Thanksgiving, many have much to be grateful for, but far too many in our region are struggling and are frustrated. May the tragedy of Ferguson inspire and motivate us to make life better for all.
Mark S. Wrighton