Dear Members of the USF Community,
It is heartbreaking that the beginning of Lunar New Year celebrations on Saturday was marked by gun violence and death in Monterey Park, the heart of the Chinese American community in Los Angeles County. Just 48 hours later, more gun violence struck farming communities in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco.
I pray for the victims of these senseless acts of gun violence as I stand together with members of our beloved USF community who are uniquely affected by these tragedies.
I join our Asian and Asian American communities here at USF in grieving the deaths of 11 people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. As we process that horrific event, the USF Cultural Centers has invited our campus community to participate in a Lunar New Year message wall on the second floor of University Center beginning tomorrow, Jan. 25. The intention of the wall is for members of our Asian and Asian American community to write their feelings and wishes for their own community at this time of the new year and for the broader community to offer words of support to the Asian and Asian American community this week and beyond.
I also ask you to remember in prayer our USF friends and colleagues at the School of Education who work so closely with immigrant farmworkers in Half Moon Bay, in conjunction with Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, director of the Latino-centered nonprofit Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS) and USF assistant professor of counseling psychology. Belinda and her team were working with children earlier in the day Monday at one of the farms where the shootings occurred. They were not injured but the impact of this violence is very real for them and the families they support.
As we stand with all members of our community affected by these tragedies, we must also condemn all vicious acts of gun violence, and affirm our unity in building communities free from hate and the threat of violence.
As many of you know, USF is an active and committed member of the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC), and I want to share its support of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. SFIC consistently looks toward this respected organization for guidance on constructive ways to respond to these tragic events.
The following university resources are available to support all in our community at this time:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) support is available to students. CAPS staff can be reached Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling (415) 422-6352 or (415) 422-6351, or after business hours by calling (855) 531-0761.
- Students can also contact the dean of students for assistance by calling (415) 422-5330 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Faculty and staff can contact CONCERN, the university’s employee assistance program, at (800) 344-4222.
- University Ministry support services are available to all community members and can be reached at (415) 422-4463 or email@example.com.
Thank you for your prayers, support, and commitment to peace and nonviolence.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.