May 24, 2022

Mass shooting in Texas

Earlier today a teenager entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and shot to death 18 elementary school children and one adult. Words cannot fully represent the depth of the loss and suffering that the parents and families are going through. Our hearts go out to them.

It is critical that we support those in our community who are affected by this terrible event. If you feel you would like help in coping with what occurred today, please reach out to these resources:

Counseling Center for undergraduates and graduate students
Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff

When I was appointed chancellor almost eight years ago, I could have never imagined how often I would be writing to you about mass shootings.

Just last week it was about Buffalo and Laguna Woods. In previous years it was about Charleston, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Thousand Oaks, Las Vegas, and New Zealand.

This year there have been at least 215 shootings in the United States in which four or more people were killed or injured, per the Gun Violence Archive. Too many to enumerate, but for example: on January 23 six were killed in Milwaukee; on March 19 one person was killed and 27 injured (including six children) in Dumas, Ark.; on April 3 six were killed and 12 wounded in Sacramento; on April 12 ten were wounded in a crowded subway car in Brooklyn; on April 27 it was three dead and one wounded in Biloxi, Miss.; on May 13 16 were wounded in Milwaukee; on May 15 two were killed and three wounded in Houston. Then Buffalo. Then Laguna Woods.

Now Uvalde, Texas. Eighteen precious children and one adult.

To remember our children is to remember Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California (2019), Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas (2018), Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (2018), Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado (1999) – and, of course, ten years ago, we recall the horror when 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven years old.

Our people, our children, are being massacred, routinely. And our elected leaders do nothing.

In my many messages to you I have tried to find the words to help us find a path forward. I have noted that events such as these happen as a matter of routine only in war zones or in the United States, and how this cannot be allowed to stand. I have urged our academic community to marshal their expertise to better understand and address these issues. I have conveyed my view that if there is a more promising path forward it will come from the bottom up and not the top down.

And I am at the point now where I wonder: what will I say next week, next month, or next year when we reel from the next horrific slaughter?

I don’t know that I will always have new and more appropriate words. But there is a reason why I end my campus messages with the phrase “Fiat Lux," Let There Be Light. Our community is premised, fundamentally, on illuminating the darkness with our light – the light of knowledge, of understanding, of kindness, of progress, of better days.

At moments of tremendous sadness and despair, let us be resolved to be a beacon for a more brilliant future.

May the love and support of everyday people ease the terrible burden of those who are suffering so much today, and may we all rededicate ourselves to confronting the darkness with our light.

Fiat Lux.

Chancellor Howard Gillman