William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe issued the following message Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 – Ed.

Affirming Support During a Time When Many Feel Especially Vulnerable 

The past three weeks have been difficult for many on our campus. The escalating conflict in Gaza and Israel has spurred division, vulnerability, anger, and sadness – as well as compassion, calls for peace, and prayers for the Israeli and Palestinian civilians in harm’s way, together with those from other nations. I write to affirm unequivocally William & Mary’s continued support for all our students, faculty, and staff. And to express my pride in how committed so many of you have been to taking care of each other through this time. 

Everyone on this campus should be able to teach, learn, worship, and speak openly without fear for safety or risk of bias. That commitment remains William & Mary’s top priority. I am deeply grateful for your constant support in this effort. 

In that spirit, I write to share that yesterday (Oct. 31), Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Directive Six (2023). William & Mary strongly affirms this directive, supporting our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and the ability of individuals statewide to express their faith. The provisions of safety and resources for Jewish and Muslim students are especially important right now. At any time of tension, the risk of bias is more acute; at this moment, threats of antisemitism and Islamophobia in particular are rising nationally and they have no place in our community. Anyone who experiences discrimination, harassment, and threats should report such incidents at reportconcern@wm.edu. William & Mary investigates every complaint, and if there is a violation of law or policy it is pursued appropriately.

William & Mary resolutely affirms the right to peaceful political expression by everyone in this community, recognizing that they speak for themselves and not the institution. Vice President Ambler’s recent message to campus laid out clearly how we uphold this principle. Behaviors that target others personally – which are now being reported around the country – are not the William & Mary way. At this university, we learn through disagreement and recognize that honorable people may often be at odds. We may profoundly disagree with the expressions of others, but we must not attack them as persons for their views.

I hope you will continue to reach out to friends, classmates, and colleagues to support each other. William & Mary offers many resources for students, faculty, and staff, including:

Recognizing the long road that lies ahead, please join me in holding in your thoughts Israeli and Palestinian people – and others in harm’s way and displaced by this war – in condemning violence, and in affirming William & Mary’s aspiration for peace and safety in this community, our Commonwealth, and the world.

Katherine A. Rowe