October 13, 2023

Dear Pitzer Community,

At yesterday’s College Council community reception, I shared some reflections on the events of the past week in Israel and Gaza and their impact on our community. I write now to elaborate upon some of those thoughts with you all. 

This has been an enormously difficult time, as the world struggles to come to grips with the horrific loss of lives during and since the heinous terrorist acts by Hamas this past weekend. We have all seen the appalling images and heard the devastating stories of families lost and shattered, of innocent children and adults murdered, maimed, and kidnapped. I know I am not alone in feeling searing pain and outrage in the face of such atrocities. Regardless of one’s perspective on the larger historical conflict, the intentional killing of innocent civilians—anytime, anywhere—is abhorrent.

This has affected all of us in the Pitzer community to one degree or another. I have learned that members of our immediate community have lost family members, and others were unable to locate family and friends in Israel and Gaza, not knowing if they were safe, or even alive. My heart goes out to all, and especially to those who have been so acutely affected. 

The ongoing war will likely bring into sharper relief differences in viewpoints and perspectives within our community. As challenging as bridging those differences can be, I want to call on us all to prioritize our human connections with each other as a caring, supportive community grounded in genuine mutual empathy, respect, and understanding, even—especially—when we might disagree. 

Many of you have heard me speak over the past several months of my aspirations for Pitzer to do more work to engage in constructive dialogues around challenging issues to enhance our educational mission. We must be adept at working our way through differences in the spirit of collective and individual learning. We are an intellectual community, and we cannot learn from and with each other by simply shutting others out or down when we disagree.

I ask us each to look first within ourselves, and to consider the ways in which we can connect and interact with each other with reciprocal trust, to provide a safe environment for all to learn. Now more than ever, the world needs Pitzer’s mission and values; now more than ever, we here at Pitzer need each other, and to work together, to advance that mission and those values.

At yesterday’s event, I called for a moment of silence in memory of the innocents who have lost their lives in recent days. Let us not forget those who have suffered and continue to suffer, and to care for each other in this precarious moment, and beyond.

Provida Futuri, 

Strom C. Thacker

Prior Presidential Communications:

In support of those in our community affected by events in Israel and Gaza – Office of the President