We stand with Orlando

June 13, 2016 

A year ago this week, it was difficult to imagine that anything could be as out-of-sync as the violent murder of nine parishioners who were in Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church. Yet, the horrific news stories seemed to keep coming: on July 16, 2015, 5 dead, 3 wounded in Chattanooga, TN; October 1, 2015, 9 dead, 9 injured in Roseburg, OR; November 29, 2015, 3 dead, 9 injured in Colorado Springs, CO; December 2, 2015, 14 dead, 22 wounded in San Bernardino, CA; and yesterday, June 12, 2016, 49 dead, 53 wounded in Orlando, FL. The latest violence happened at the Pulse nightclub—a gathering spot for the LGBTQ community. And I firmly believe that, in every case, an attack on one is an attack on us all. 

Hatred of any kind is not a value that we, as Americans, can ever accept. At the University of South Carolina, we ask our community of scholars to embrace the Carolinian Creed which, frankly, has never seemed more universal. Our Creed encourages the Carolina Family to practice personal integrity, to respect the dignity of all persons as well as their rights and property. In addition, our Creed discourages bigotry while encouraging learning from the differences in people, ideas and opinions. Finally, we ask that each member demonstrate concern for others, their feelings and their need for conditions which support their work and development. It resonates and reverberates. It works. 

Hatred of any kind is not a value that we, as Americans, can ever accept.

Today, our Carolina family stands with Orlando, with the victimized LGBTQ community, and with their families and friends.  We send our prayers to the broken-hearted who seek solace and to the wounded who are fighting for a full recovery. We also send our thoughts to the Muslim community who are appalled and heartsick.  Finally, we send our deepest appreciation to the police and first responders who risked their lives to save so many. 

Our university is extending counseling support to our students, faculty and staff who are studying and working on campus this summer. And as we approach this commemorative period for those we lost in Charleston a year ago, our hearts are overflowing with grief for all others lost to senseless violence during the past year—in South Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, California, Florida and beyond. Let us, together, find the strength to respect one another and serve one another as brothers and sisters. 

May God be with you.