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September 24, 2001
Dear Colleagues and Students:

Since we first came together as a campus community a day after the terrible events of Sept. 11, we have begun to face emotions even more difficult than the shock and grief we shared that day. Anger and despair for many, and the expectation that there will be strong differences of opinion about the course our government should pursue.

Yet, this need not divide this campus or cause us to lose the sustaining sense of community that has been our initial response to the terrorist attacks. We can and must do something immensely significant in the hard times to come. We can maintain the small world that is San Francisco State University as a model of what we would like the greater world to be. I know that this very thought is on your minds, for it recurs in many of the e-mail messages I have received from faculty, staff, and students in recent days. You have sent quotations, copies of columns that have touched you, and you have spoken in your own heartfelt words.

Among the restorative messages I have received are these:

  • "A central teaching in most spiritual traditions is: What you wish to experience, provide for another."
  • "It's important that we save Americans, but also important that we save America-meaning human lives, yes. But also that which ennobles them."
  • "The enemy is not Arab people or the Muslim religion. The enemy is fanaticism, extremism, intolerance, hate."
  • "May we all use this time to reflect and seek a deeper understanding of our world."
  • "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and, for a time, they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it-always." - Mahatma Ghandi
I hope that you've noticed a new message around campus, one that to me, sums up the spirit that will best sustain us in what may well be long, hard times to come. The words are those of the Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon, Bishop of Washington, spoken as she began the splendid service in the Washington National Cathedral memorializing the terrorist attack victims. "Love is stronger than hate," she reminded a nation. Those words now fly on campus banners, appear on the SFSU home page, on every issue of CampusMemo, and on my stationery, and soon will hang from light poles on major streets leading to the campus.

This is not a political message. I am not writing to offer an opinion on how our nation should seek to bring to justice those still living who bear responsibility for the events of Sept. 11, or how terrorism might be eradicated. As individuals, we cannot change the world, but we can make one part of it - our immediate community - better, one personal encounter at a time. We have an absolute obligation to preserve this university as a safe and supportive community for all among us. Doing so is in itself a victory.

Robert A. Corrigan

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Last modified February 20, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs