May 16, 2022

Confronting Violent Extremism

On Sunday, around lunchtime, a gunman opened fire inside a church in Laguna Woods, killing one person, wounding five others, four critically, and traumatizing hundreds. The killer’s motive remains unknown at this writing, although all the victims were congregants of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church.

This horror follows closely on Saturday’s murder in Buffalo, New York, of ten Black people by a racist White teenager inflamed by extremist rhetoric.

Our hearts break for all the victims and their loved ones. It is critical that we stand together as a diverse campus community while supporting those communities most directly affected by acts of violence. If you feel you would like help in coping with these events, please reach out to these resources:

Campus Assistance Program for undergraduates and graduate students
Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff

I also urge our faculty in relevant disciplines to increase teaching and research on the rise of violent extremism in our region, our country, and around the world, using the support offered by our initiatives on Confronting Extremism.

Only in America – or in a war zone – does this kind of unspeakable carnage regularly occur. We are in the early stages of our local and national election seasons. Ask the candidates whether they believe this is a problem and, if so, how they plan to find a solution. Use your skills to evaluate their responses, and then support those who align with your beliefs. If there is a more promising path forward, it will come from the bottom up, not the top down, so let your voice be heard.

Let There Be Light,

Chancellor Howard Gillman