Dear DECADE mentors and DECADE student community,

I am writing to  you today with a heavy heart and a humble request for your help in supporting our many students, post-docs, faculty, and staff who are struggling right now. As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough, this past week has pushed many past our limits. We are faced with unconscionable Anti-Black police violence and anti-Chinese xenophobia and threats to the global educational mission of ours and other universities. We know very little about the practical and logistical impacts of these activities and measures right now. What I do know, for certain, however, is that our students and post-docs are terrified and experiencing immense collective trauma. I hope you will forgive my use of language that one might view as overly dramatic. All evidence says it is not overly dramatic. Our students, especially our Black and Chinese students  are experiencing a collective trauma. All of this happening in the same week that the U.S. crossed the unspeakable loss of 100,000 lives to COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color — along with 40 million individuals losing their jobs since the pandemic began — adding to the tragedy we are all experiencing.

I hope you will each send messages of support to the students and post-docs in your own departments and let them know where you stand, that you are here for them, and/or anything else you feel you can. In Graduate Division we are planning to hold space for the graduate student community to discuss the recent racial events that have been taking place in the country. We will update you with the details as soon as possible.  Also, because I recognize that many DECADE Mentors and the vast majority of our DECADE student council are yourselves minoritized and perhaps experiencing your own trauma, I want to remind you that we are here for you in Graduate Division. Students and post-docs are encouraged to talk with Phong B. Luong pbluong@uci.edu and Elizabeth Dunn dunnes@uci.edu. Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek out the campus Social Workers and counseling services. Any and all of you are encouraged to reach out to me if there is anything I can do to help.

Sending you all my best wishes for justice and peace,

Gillian