Thoughts for Our Students
October 5, 2022
This message is primarily for our students, but I am including faculty and staff because it’s important for all of us to understand how members of our university community are being impacted by events beyond the classroom.
Across our university, different groups of students are struggling with the impact of recent events – different events, but all devastating in different ways.
This weekend, we lost a student in Durward Hall: Sydney Meegan, a first year student from Littleton. Her mother has shared that Sydney was thriving at CSU and had just joined the Chi Omega sorority here. The cause of her death is still being determined, but no matter the cause, Sydney’s death is a deep loss to her family and friends, to the world that was brighter with Sydney in it, and to all the students in the residence halls who were impacted by the death of a fellow student here on campus. I want to encourage anyone in need of support in processing what happened to take advantage of the student support services available to all of you, including the counseling center resources offered through the CSU Health Network. There is also an array of additional support services offered to students, faculty and staff.
Another group of CSU students is facing an entirely different challenge right now – continuing to live and study here while their families and communities at home are facing significant and even brutal circumstances from civil and political unrest and war. This has been an ongoing reality for our students from Ukraine and Russia for many months now. More recently, our students from Iran have reached out seeking the support and awareness of our community as their home country has seen nearly a hundred people killed in anti-government protests across the nation following the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody for allegedly violating the government’s dress code. This is the most widespread uprising against Iranian leadership in years, with high schools and colleges in the heart of the struggle. This past weekend, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran was at the center of the tensions, with hundreds of students beaten and arrested by security forces. We have been advised that close family members of some of our CSU students were directly involved. The violence aimed at protestors has gained the attention of human rights organizations around the globe, as communications have been disrupted and social media, news media, and internet access blocked, making it extremely difficult for our students to know what is happening with their families.
There may seem to be little we can do here, in Fort Collins, Colorado, to directly address the struggles in another country. But there are ways we can take action if we choose to do so. We can share our views with our congressional representatives, support those organizations and journalists working in this arena, and above all, we can offer our support, comfort, and advocacy to our impacted students who are in fear of the imminent danger to their families and friends. As a university, we join our students in supporting human rights, justice, and access to education for all people, everywhere. Those values are at the heart of our mission as a university.
The Office of International Programs is always available to support international students dealing with troubles in their home countries, and they have reached out directly to our students from Iran. Several of our Iranian students also have made themselves available on the LSC Plaza and through various public presentations to discuss what is happening and share their experiences and views. Please take the time to speak with them, listen to what they are experiencing, and support them as valued and vulnerable members of our campus community.
We are also watching with care the evolving situation around DACA and an anticipated ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Colorado State University System and its Board of Governors has long stood in support of DACA and the importance of creating opportunities for undocumented students who are brought to the U.S. as children to pursue their education. We are committed to providing a high-quality education to all qualified students, regardless of background. Our DACA students, as well as many who are undocumented but without DACA, face significant personal and financial obstacles in attending college – and still they persist and excel at CSU. A change in the law will create additional stress for them and for documented students who have undocumented family members. While we do not know what the court will decide, we continue to advocate in support of these students through our lobbying efforts at the System level and our national higher-education associations. And we encourage our students to continue to focus on their own well-being and stay connected with the support systems and resources available. This website https://undocumented.colostate.edu includes useful information for undocumented students, international students, and students who are immigrants.
Finally, we are all also aware of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian over the past week, with 109 confirmed dead as of today and thousands of people as yet unaccounted for. Our case managers and student affairs teams have reached out to students from the impacted areas, but please be aware that many of our students may be personally impacted and needing our support and understanding at this time.
All of this comes at a time in the semester when there is already a normal level of stress around mid-terms. So I encourage all of our students to reach out and ask for help when you need it and use the resources available. And let’s all try to give each other a little grace when we can, knowing that some among us may be struggling in unseen ways. This is a community, and Rams take care of Rams. Times like these are when we really give those words meaning.
Thanks, and best wishes as we head into the second third of the semester.
Dr. Rick Miranda