Dear Vassar Community,
As you may be aware, President Bradley called on us to create a Restorative Response Group to help the campus community strengthen our capacity to communicate with one another in caring ways as we continue to navigate heartbreak and contend with the inconceivable violence of the war in the Middle East.
We have heard from many of you. So many people on our campus have been deeply affected by the violence. People are in all different places, and people on all sides are hurting. Because so many aspects of our identities, positionalities, core values, and closest personal bonds affect how we each understand and navigate this pain, we will each need different ways to feel, think, and respond.
The task of the Restorative Response Group, as we conceive of it, is to create spaces to take restorative approaches and foster connection. Our group works to support the Vassar community by sharing a variety of resources for expressing, processing, and engaging with what we are experiencing. Most critically, we welcome your input on what we share. More information about the RRG is available on the RRG’s webpage.
Our first attempt at sharing resources is described below:
New Restorative Practice Resource—Listening Circles: Vassar’s new Office of Restorative Practices offers facilitated listening circles for those who want to come together to process the war and our experience of it with others. If you would like to engage in this practice, you can request to start or join a circle. More information about listening circles is available on the RRG’s webpage.
Self and Community Care: Emotional, mental, and physical health resources are accessible for students and for employees. Being in community affinity spaces (check out Student Growth & Engagement and Employee Resource Groups) is equally important. One of Vassar’s strengths is the way in which our community members check in with and look out for one another. We encourage you to continue to do so.
Centering Spaces: Reach out to Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices (RSLCP) staff and affiliate advisors for the Vassar community and find out about student communities, weekly gathering spaces, and opportunities for centering practices.
Remember the Quiet Room on the 3rd floor of the Vassar Library and check in with Residential Life about new spaces for centering in the residence halls (to reserve your spot, simply follow the links: reserve Jewett Room 121 and reserve Noyes Room 119).
Learning, Teaching, and Acting: Students and faculty who want to connect learning with action and organizing about the conflict, especially in connection with local community-based organizations, can reach out to the Office of Community Engaged Learning.
Faculty members who want to engage this issue in the classroom and seek resources and consultation about teaching in difficult times are encouraged to reach out to Kelli Duncan, Faculty Director of Teaching Development, and Alexia Ferracuti, Director of Inclusive Pedagogy. A resource guide for teaching in difficult times is available on the Inclusive Pedagogy Website.
Students for whom this issue is affecting your ability to show up in class, we encourage you to talk to your professors, reach out to your Class Advisor in the Dean of Studies Office firstname.lastname@example.org, the College Counseling Service, or the Accessibility and Educational Opportunity Office.
Future Offerings: As we move from the immediate impact of this moment toward learning, growing, and acting together in community, we have future plans to develop more active learning spaces as well as more grief, processing, and response spaces. We deeply value your input as we go. You may have a vision or an idea about how to engage others with care. We want to hear about it through our form or by email: email@example.com. We build safety, trust, and belonging together. Thank you for your contributions to this place and to all we share.
Vassar’s Restorative Response Group
Amanda Munroe, Director of Restorative Practices for Engaged Pluralism
Jonathon Kahn, Professor of Religion, Faculty Director for Engaged Pluralism
Samuel Speers, Associate Dean of the College, Religious and Spiritual Life & Contemplative Practices