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A Message Following the Tragic Weekend Event in Colorado

Dear members of the Emerson community,

We all deserve to be who we are and to feel safe in our identities. The incident that occurred this weekend targeting the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a jarring  reminder of the intersection between bigotry and violence; and the vulnerability of our LGBTQ+ family, friends, and colleagues in the ongoing struggle to upend transphobia, heteronormativity, and homophobia.

We mourn the five LGBTQ+ people who lost their lives at Club Q this weekend, and grieve the cruel irony that yesterday was the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, in observance of trans-identifying people whose lives have been taken in acts of violence. 

We recognize that this most recent attack was not an isolated incident, and that there are acts of harm and moments of grief that impact individuals and communities across the globe that never receive news coverage. We grieve with you.

Emerson is steadfast about being an inclusive community. To deepen that commitment, over the next academic year, we plan to create a workshop available to students, staff, and faculty so that more members of our community have access to information about what transphobia, heteronormativity, and homophobia mean today. We take seriously the shared responsibility of education as one path to ensuring students and colleagues feel they belong here.

Space is being held right now for those who want to gather, reflect, and support each other from 3:00 – 5:00 pm EST in the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

I know there are members of the community who may be feeling acutely shocked and aggrieved and need immediate support. There are resources available. 

For students. Counseling Services in Emerson’s Wellness Center has Queer/Questioning Sessions are Tuesdays at 3:30 pm in 172 Tremont, Room 205. After-hours clinicians are available by calling the Counseling Services number at 617-824-8666. (If in crisis, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.) Intercultural Student Affairs is also available to offer identity-affirming support. 

For students, staff, and faculty:

Center for Spiritual Life

Healing & Advocacy Collective

LGBTQ+ Online and Chat National Resources 

In addition, employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if they need someone to talk with. 

In this time of grief where polarization, extremism, and violence is increasingly rampant, I am heartened by Emerson’s community values and powerful mission to “advance scholarship and creative work that brings innovation, depth, and diversity to these disciplines.”

As educators, organizers, creators, media makers, and communicators, we have a responsibility to complicate the status quo and shift narratives in order to shift our society. Our world needs repair and we each must be part of the restorative work. 

In community, 
Shaya Gregory Poku
Vice President for Equity and Social Justice

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