I am writing to you on March 4. On this date in 1861, in Washington, DC, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States. In Woodland, CA, Hesperian College timed its opening to coincide with Lincoln’s inauguration. At the time, colleges were being established all over the west, but this one was unique—the college was open to women as well as men. Further, Hesperian was open to students of all ethnicities. The founders, a Disciples of Christ congregation, signaled with their policies and the timing of the opening of the college that this school would be training a new generation in an atmosphere of inclusion and equality. After a series of transitions over 160 years, what began as Hesperian College eventually became Chapman University.

And that commitment to justice continued. As President Struppa recently wrote in an email to the Chapman community, “Chapman has a special commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts. As we witness the desperation of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, we are inspired by the Wilkinson family’s pacifism, devotion to social justice, and lifelong commitment to the study and proliferation of peace.”

Commitment to peace and justice is in the DNA of Chapman. It is fitting now that we extend our care far beyond our borders. That we hold up Ukrainians who are suffering from the brutality of Russian invasion.

We are a people who care, but how can we help? Here are several concrete ways we might begin:

We can process our grief.

We may find as we look inside that we wish we had acted when people in situations before this suffered displacement and violence. We may discover we feel afraid, or paralyzed, or angry, or indifferent. We do not need to have it all together, or know all that is at stake, to be able to empathize or act. As interfaith leader Valarie Kaur writes, You don’t need to know people in order to grieve with them. You grieve with them in order to know them. We can process together.

  • Join us Thursday, March 10, at 12:00 noon in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel for a Guided Inquiry and Reflection to process grief and find courage for action, or watch via Zoom. We will join to reflect, hold in prayer and silence the people of Ukraine, and contemplate responses together.
  • Stop in the Fish Interfaith Center Monday-Friday, 8am – 9pm to visit the vigil table, sit in quiet space, and write a note or pledge to action.

We can educate ourselves.

  • Wilkinson College and Peace Studies will be co-hosting an event Ask the Experts: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine on Monday, March 14 from 1:00-2:15pm in AF 201, or streamed via Zoom.
  • The Peace Studies Union will host an Informal round table discussion on Tuesday, March 8, 8:00 pm in Smith Hall 105.

We can act.

  • Civic Engagement offers and excellent list of What We Can Do, featuring more faculty-vetted resources for education and a list of action items.
  • Civic Engagement invites you to add your own messages at the Peace Pole in front of Argyros Forum beginning on Monday, March 7 and throughout the week.