February 4, 2022
Dear HWS Community,
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country have received bomb threats as part of what federal law enforcement agencies are characterizing as a series of hate crimes. The threats have targeted at least 15 institutions and have been made on multiple occasions—including Jan. 4, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The threats have impacted colleges to the point of lock downs and evacuations, with students having to shelter in their dorms or elsewhere and some institutions moving classes online. The intensity and expanse of the threats, at a moment when campuses have already been disrupted by the pandemic, have left many students, staff and faculty at these colleges reeling.
While the bomb threats have thus far not been credible, this kind of terrorism reverberates within and beyond HBCUs. We stand in solidarity with these communities of higher education and affirm the message published earlier this week by the American Association of Colleges and Universities that reminds us that “as we begin this Black History Month, we do so in the context of a fresh reminder of the racist terror against which so many whose contributions and achievements we celebrate had to struggle.”
At Hobart and William Smith, we honor the historical and contemporary importance of HBCUs to Black education and knowledge production as well as contributions to our nation and campus. Our current curriculum and teaching reflect the profound influence of HBCUs on the quality of education we provide. From environmental justice and criminal justice to the arts, humanities and STEM disciplines, the intellectual contributions of HBCUs pervade our world.
May we resolve to stand with our community of educators and students at HBCUs and honor their life and legacy on our campus.
Nita, Sarah & Khuram
The Rev. Nita C. Johnson Byrd (she, her, hers)
Dean of Spiritual Engagement and Chaplain
Provost and Dean of Faculty
Khuram Hussain, PhD (he/him)
Associate Professor of Education and VP for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion