Office of the President

October 3, 2017

Responding to the tragedy in Las Vegas

Ana Mari Cauce

The news of the Las Vegas mass shooting has filled us all with horror and deep sadness – for the dozens of lives lost, the hundreds injured and the thousands of friends and loved ones whose lives will be forever altered. One of the injured is a member of our community, Melinda Brockie, an MSW student in the UW School of Social Work and member of the Lummi Nation. When I visited the Lummi about a year ago, I was struck by the closeness of their community and the strong ties they share. I join our Dean of the School of Social Work Eddie Uehara in extending my heartfelt hopes for Melinda’s complete and speedy recovery and I ask you to keep her, her family and her community in your thoughts as she heals. I also want to thank all of the first responders and ordinary people whose bravery and quick action in Las Vegas saved lives, including Melinda’s. Yesterday we experienced the worst of humanity, but it also brought out the best of humanity.

To any members of our community who have been affected by this shooting and need someone to talk to, I encourage you to get in touch with the UW Counseling Center or visit our Student Life site or Safe Campus for more resources. Please remember that asking for help when you need it is not a sign of frailty, it is a sign of strength.

Words often fail us in the wake of a tragedies like this one – tragedies that should be preventable, and yet continue to occur with numbing regularity. I was moved by the words of our Vice President for Innovation Strategy Vikram Jandhyala who, in a note to his colleagues, pointed out that yesterday would have been the 148th birthday of Mahatma Ghandi, who exemplified the notion that each of us, through empathy, compassion and purpose, has the power to change the world.

This reminder gives me hope, and hope is important right now, because hope will enable us to keep working toward a better, more peaceful world. We have within us the power to destroy, but we also possess the power to heal, love and build. Central to our mission as a public research university is the commitment to build a better world, through education, scholarship and research, and through our work in patient care and service to the community. At times like this, together, we recommit ourselves to those goals.