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Letter to the University community after the violence in Tucson

To the University Community:

Our nation has been rocked by the assassination attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child, and fourteen others wounded. I invite you to join me at Morris Chapel on Wednesday, January 12, at 5:30 p.m. for a vigil in honor of the victims. The chapel is also available all week for anyone who wishes to reflect there.

While this was clearly the act of a deeply disturbed individual, it has given rise to a national conversation about public service and our country's political climate. I encourage our University of the Pacific community to join that conversation. In light of Saturday's tragedy, public service and civic engagement suddenly seem risky. I encourage you to talk about leadership, civic engagement and civil discourse in your classrooms and residence halls. How can we encourage public service as well as contribute to a more respectful political climate? How and why should we listen to opinions different from our own? How can we approach difference with civility and dignity?

In late January we will have the opportunity to come together as a community to discuss these issues. The Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership has offered to facilitate a University-wide discussion about leadership, democracy and the role of civil discourse in democratic deliberation. You will hear more about the details of this event soon.

I know you join me in keeping all those affected by the Tucson shooting in your thoughts and prayers. It is a grave time for their families and friends, and for our nation as well. We must work together to ensure a public sphere that is safe, welcoming and respectful to all.

Sincerely,

Pamela A. Eibeck