Listening to and learning from our community

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Dear VCU community:

As a follow up to my statement that was sent earlier this week about what is happening in Israel and Gaza, senior university leadership and I met today with student leaders and advisors of VCU’s Muslim Student Association, Hillel at VCU, the Palestinian Student Organization, Black Muslim Collective and Jewish Life at VCU. 

We did so to hear directly from our students about my message and what is happening in Israel and Gaza. Understandably, our students are hurt, grieving, angry and anxious about what is taking place.  

As we talked, I shared two important points.

First, I reiterated what I have said many times this week: that it remains heartbreaking that innocent civilians — Israeli, Palestinian, American and many other nationalities — have been killed, injured and had their homes and communities destroyed. 

We must always place the highest value on all human lives anywhere they are.  

Second, I emphasized that all members of the VCU community must feel safe, welcomed and respected on campus. This is a priority. 

Next week, I plan to meet with members of our VCU Qatar campus, too. I have also carefully read messages from, and had conversations with, other students, faculty, staff and alumni of diverse faiths and backgrounds. 

I am exceptionally proud of our students and all those who have expressed views and provided very thoughtful advice this week. Our students are true inclusive leaders who are making a positive difference on campus and in our communities.  

The university is here to offer support and care for all who need it. Student support resources include TimelyCare and University Counseling Services, available 24 hours a day at 804-828-6200. Faculty and staff resources can be found at VCU's RamStrong program.

Difficult times and conversations will continue. So, in the days and weeks ahead, please look after your own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. As the VCU community does, please show compassion to all in our community who are suffering.  


Michael Rao
President, VCU