May 31, 2022 

Dear Students:

Last week, the day after the Uvalde massacre, a CSUCI group met ostensibly for an Investiture Planning Committee meeting, but that meeting never happened. Instead, Alex Padilla, Andrea Coppinger, Carolyn Shamowski, CJ Yao, Kristin Steiner, and Kaia Tollefson spent that time grieving together. They’ve since described that gathering as a healing time. Though they spent 90 minutes sharing their grief, anger, and anguished helplessness in the familiar aftermath of yet another mass shooting – this one all the more heartbreaking for the age of the victims and desecration of all that an elementary school represents – they didn’t only grieve. They created an action plan.

I fully endorse this plan, dubbed the CSUCI PACT for Peace. I encourage each of you to participate in its activities, designed not only to protest and overcome the scourge of gun violence in America’s schools and broader communities, but to provide comfort and connection as we work together in this essential realm to advance CSUCI’s educational mission. While many more surely exist, two direct connections to that mission spring immediately to mind:

  1. Our School of Education sends student teachers, early childhood educators, and newly certified teachers and administrators into leadership positions in local P12 schools. We must do all that we can to ensure their current and future safety.
  2. We have repeatedly seen that victims of mass shooters are often targeted by their demographics (e.g., race, religion, sexuality). Our student-centered campus mission and our commitment to embed the values of diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) in all that we do also require our long-term determination to go beyond words to action in our ongoing efforts to ensure that every person in all the communities we serve feels valued and safe.

I regret that I will be away from campus for CSUCI’s first PACT for Peace action, a gathering at the Peace Pole at noon on Friday, June 3 – National Gun Violence Awareness Day – to provide comfort and connection for the campus. For those of you who can attend, I hope you will find solace and hope in joining together, utilizing the energy of grief and anger to inspire sustained action.

Information about the newly developing CSUCI PACT for Peace follows, with details in the planning stages for additional actions. If you and/or your program, office, school, and/or division would like to join with the Office of the President in the work of planning, acting, coalescing, and transforming schools and society into safer, more just realities for every child and every person, please attend any Wednesday at noon gathering at the Peace Pole to connect. Bring a blanket and your bag lunch – and please, invite your friends and colleagues to join you.

Richard Yao, Ph.D.

CSUCI PACT for Peace

  • PACT is:
    • Planning opportunities to connect, to grieve, to heal, and to overcome gun violence
    • Acting strategically and in solidarity to promote peace, belonging, and mental health
    • Coalescing with community partners to amplify and leverage peace-building efforts
    • Transforming schools and society, ensuring that every human being is valued and safe
  • PACT for Peace is not:
    • Utilizing CSUCI’s name to take a political stance. No CSU employee, office, program, school/college, division, or campus is legally allowed to take a stance or make an action promoting a political agenda as a CSU employee, office, program, etc. (e.g., utilizing CSU email, letterhead, employee time, or other resources) that the CSU has not endorsed. As a public institution we must be vigilant in adhering to CSUCI’s humanistic, pro-DEI, anti-violence stance and leave the shaping of political and legislative outcomes to individuals and organizations who are free to do that work.
  • CSUCI PACT for Peace Actions (under development)
    • June 3: National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Peace Pole, noon
    • CSUCI social media in orange with messaging about orange as a color to symbolize an anti-gun-violence position, with how to get involved information
    • Provide handouts
      • Orange ribbons
      • Anti-Gun-Violence Action Cards: Names and contact info for elected officials; fact sheet on gun violence in the US
    • Lunch at the Peace Pole: Wednesdays from noon-1pm, first one June 8 and continuing until further notice
    • CSUCI Blood Drive: Additional details to be shared soon
    • Letter-writing campaign: Sessions with materials to write to elected officials
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Outings: Invite EAP service providers to be physically present on campus, tabling on the Mall, introducing themselves, explaining the services they can provide (e.g., services are available to campus employees and members of their household, including dependents living away from home)
    • CSUCI PACT for Peace advocacy off-campus: Sign up to share messaging/carry signage sharing CSUCI’s anti-gun-violence advocacy in communities off campus
    • Coalition-building with local organizations (e.g., P12 schools, social justice- oriented organizations, communities of faith, other CSUs)
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