March 18, 2019

To the William Paterson University Community:

My heartfelt sympathies go out to both the victims’ families and the survivors of Friday’s horrendous attacks on Muslims praying in two mosques in New Zealand. They were brutally shot down by a white supremacist with hate in his heart. This assault was an attack on all Muslims everywhere. Indeed, it was an act of violence on all of us who embrace diversity in our daily lives, and strive for peace and understanding. Knowing that our students, staff, and faculty are deeply affected by the hatred expressed in these shootings, I want to assure everyone that Islamophobic attitudes have no place in our world, much less on our campus. To this end, the University sought, and has recently been awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Education to increase curricular offerings in Middle Eastern Studies (along with Korean Studies). One of the goals of this project, as outlined by Dean Kara Rabbitt, is to ensure that we make the University a welcoming environment for Muslim students. Please know that we care about the safety and security of our Muslim students, faculty and staff – and everyone on our campus. Whether these heinous attacks occur in our mosques, synagogues, or churches, they often come from a place of hate and misunderstanding. As an academic institution dedicated to moving thought forward in the context of inclusion and diversity, let us be mindful that conversations about difference can be difficult. Reasoned minds often can, and should work to find a path forward to coexist peacefully. Please remember that the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center is available to all students for support. Along with all of the thoughtful and caring members of our William Paterson University Community, I denounce these atrocities. I ask us all to remember to be kind to one another as we recognize that our community is stronger than the hate that some people hold for others who are different from them.


Richard J. Helldobler, PhD