Merten Addresses Mason Community Regarding War, Terrorism Possibilities

Posted: February 19, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Editor’s note: Due to the inclement weather, this story is being rerun today.

Editor’s note: This letter, written by President Alan Merten, was also distributed to George Mason faculty and staff members via e-mail.

With the possibility of war on the horizon and terrorism alerts daily in the news, many of us are feeling more than usually stressed. At times like these, it is more important than ever to remember that we are part of a learning community, and as such, are committed to freedom of speech, treating all our members with respect and civility, and maintaining a safe and free campus environment.

During 9/11 and its aftermath, I was deeply impressed by the way the George Mason community pulled together and supported each other. Our campuses suffered very few of the kinds of bias-related incidents that occurred elsewhere. This is a track record we want to maintain and encourage. Remember how important it is to not repeat rumors. Check out the validity of any information you are hearing. George Mason’s Mason on Alert web site, accessible from our web page, will carry information relating to what’s happening on campus and will be updated regularly. Should an emergency occur, information will also be available on GMU-TV (Channel 19 and 23 on campus, Channel 18 in Fairfax County and Reston, and Channels 93 and 75 in Alexandria), at the Johnson Center Information Desk, and at the switchboard.

Many of our students, faculty, and staff are already being affected by the possibility of war, with either themselves or members of their families being called to active service. Students in this position should call Student Accounts at (703) 993-2484 and also talk to their faculty adviser or department chair about academic decisions. Faculty and staff should contact their supervisors and also call Human Resources and ask to speak to their generalist. The Counseling Center is open to anyone who feels the need for extra help at any time.

You should know that, while the university is under no specific threat, the University Police have increased their presence on our campuses, particularly in regard to any large events. The university also has an emergency response plan in place that was developed in conjunction with surrounding police and fire jurisdictions to deal with a variety of crises.

In this difficult time, we are fortunate to be part of a university campus. We have faculty experts knowledgeable about the issues, ranging from historical context to conflict resolution. Our diverse community provides a wealth of ideas and perspectives. We will all draw on these resources as we seek to understand what is happening to this nation and the world. Over the coming months, the Provost’s Office, University Life, student groups, and academic departments will be organizing panel discussions, dialogue sessions, and other ways we can come together, exchange ideas, and learn.

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