January 30, 2023

Dear Members of the HWS Community,

Like many of you, I watched the video footage that was released last night from Memphis, Tennessee showing the arrest and horrific beating of Tyre Nichols that led to his death. I was overwhelmed with sorrow for his family and outraged by the brutality of the encounter.

Since the video release, many have reflected on the lack of basic humanity in the beating and the extraordinary length of time it took for medical assistance to arrive. I was especially touched by the searing question of Mr. Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, who heartbreakingly asked, “Where was the humanity?”

As an institution of higher education dedicated to inquiry and learning through courses, lectures, symposia and in our everyday conversations, we regularly engage in dialogue around human rights, power, privilege, reason, evidence and about what it means to be human. For me, I have always been inspired by our mission – ‘to prepare students to lead lives of consequence.' At HWS we are blessed to be in a residential community that allows – indeed, encourages – students to study and reflect on important issues and interrogate themselves about what a life of consequence means to them.

This seems like such a moment – to reflect on the nature of humanity, the opportunities given to all of us and the responsibility we have to each other and the collective to create a better future. It is also a time to create spaces to support one another and to lean on one another. We all need to do that. ;And it’s good to know that resources such as the Counseling Center, Spiritual Engagement, the Deans and Campus Life staff, among others, are available.

Thanks for reading these thoughts.


Mark Gearan