Dear fellow alumni,
At this time each month, I look forward to sharing with you news and events happening on campus and in our alumni communities through the Alumni Update e-newsletter. For now, though, I would like to pause for reflection around what American University is and what it means to us.
The hate crime that occurred on our campus recently has affected us deeply. Our African American students – especially the first African American woman to become Student Government president and the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated – were the target of a truly evil act, and I can't overstate the impact this has had on the entire university community.
Typically, I feel endlessly proud to be an AU Eagle. During the last two and a half weeks, though, I have felt shock, anger, frustration, and numbness for what occurred on our campus. As Dr. Kerwin asserted during this past weekend's commencement ceremonies, an assault on one member of this community is an assault on all of us.
It is important to recognize that hate in a variety of forms has existed on AU's campus for a long time. That is not to say that we should accept or ignore this ugly behavior. Rather we must, as Dr. Kerwin said, acknowledge that we are not insulated from this behavior and recognize that it too often threatens our values. And we must solve the problem.
I appreciate efforts the university is making to both solve the crime and to offer resources to community members. The outpouring of support for our students of color has been truly uplifting. But we simply must do more.
We have received many messages from alumni who recognize that we have an important role here. Alumni want to provide support and to stand with students in condemnation of hate. They seek to be heard – to have the world know that this is not #ourAU. All of us must be the exemplars and the leaders that our students need.
Please take a moment to learn more about identity-based alumni alliances and become engaged in these programs. Come back to campus. Speak to a class or participate in a panel. Now is the time to become more engaged, not reserved or withdrawn. Consider supporting the Black Alumni Alliance and Latino Alumni Alliance book awards so that they can be fully endowed. These awards help students feel like there is something specifically for them, and the funds help them make the most of their time at AU.
It is no overstatement to say that we can all do something to impact the lives of students at AU. Many of us have been on campus standing alongside them in recent days. I write today to ask: How would you like to contribute to progress at AU? Please be in touch.
These are challenging times for our university, but we must recommit ourselves to do all that we can to aid our students and our campus. I promise that we will endeavor to keep you informed, but please join me in leading the charge.
Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA '08
President, American University Alumni Association
Dear fellow alumni,