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A Message from President Barbara K. Altmann

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

In the greater F&M community, which stretches across campus and around the world, many of us are deeply distressed. Some have family and friends who live in Israel and Gaza. Some of our alumni are living there now. Thousands more in our worldwide community have ethnic, cultural, religious or humanitarian ties to the region. 

Our primary obligation, always, is to care for the wellbeing of our students, who have just returned from fall break, and those who support their education. In our first message on the recent violence in the Middle East, we deliberately emphasized the support services available to all members of our campus.

As a community, we share many values. Some are unique to our College mission, and others are universal. On behalf of the F&M leadership team, I condemn the egregious violence and terror committed in the attack on Israel by Hamas. We must always stand against terrorism, kidnapping, hostage taking, torture and the assault of innocent people.

We acknowledge the complex and troubled history of the region. Our hearts break for all innocent lives that have been lost in Israel and Gaza – or forever changed by profound grief – and we hurt for those who are afraid for their own safety and that of their loved ones. 

It is the mission of institutions like Franklin & Marshall to provide the education, freedom of expression, and exploration of ideas and actions to create a world in which resolution is an attainable objective and human life is spared. 

At F&M, we are committed to fostering that spirit of learning and exchange. In collaboration with multiple offices, departments, and student groups, we are finding ways to discuss, debate and face these tragedies. We will continue to share opportunities for discussion as they develop. Next week, F&M’s Inclusion Week and Day of Dialogue will also bring us opportunities to gather across differences and explore our shared humanity.

Finally, we recognize that the violence of this past week may raise fears of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents. Such attacks have no place in our society nor on our campus, and we will not tolerate them. 

Especially in these troubled times, it is imperative that we offer one another comfort and care. Our classmates, colleagues, mentors, roommates, teammates, friends and family members may be feeling stresses we cannot imagine. In addition to the resources identified in our first message, it is important to note that the best resource may be person-to-person interactions – checking in with a friend, offering kind words to a colleague, or sending a note of comfort to someone who badly needs it right now. The way we care for one another through difficult times is and will always be the greatest strength of a Diplomat.

Barbara K. Altmann