Release Date: 
Saturday, March 16, 2019

Our community grieves together, and stands with our Muslim brothers and sisters

HFC logo on a blue field

HFC Students, Colleagues, and Community,

Yesterday, once again, the world was rocked by news of another mass shooting of people who were targeted because of their religious beliefs. In Christchurch, New Zealand, 50 people are reported dead and 20 more seriously injured in shootings at mosques.

I have heard that many of you are beyond shock at this latest news, and I grieve with you. It is hard to imagine the fear and agony of the families and friends of those who were murdered or wounded by this act of terror.

As I said in my November 2018 message about this issue, I believe our world is better than this. These acts tear at the fabric of our shared community and our shared humanity. Before I arrived at the College, then-Interim President John Satkowski sent a message about condemning the deplorable “Punish a Muslim Day” letter in Great Britain in April 2018.

Today, I want to speak directly to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to all of us, about the impact of these acts on this community of faith. I speak to you as someone who, while not a member of your religious community, fully embraces you as part of the Henry Ford College community.

The New Zealand murders took place during Jumu’ah, or Friday Prayer. All prayer times are sacred, but the Friday Prayer is a specific communal time.

A core part of our commitment at Henry Ford College is to keep our community, and each other, safe. This is an active commitment, and one that all of us must embrace. My message for you is that our College values you, and we are with you in your quest for education and a brighter future. Your prayer times and community gatherings and sacred spaces deserve the utmost respect. No person should wonder whether his or her religious beliefs make them a target for hateful violence.

I hope you will find that your fellow students, faculty, and staff at Henry Ford College are engaged and vocal in our solidarity with you. I encourage all of us take the extra step of being actively kind and welcoming to friends as well as strangers in our community, today and always.

At Henry Ford College, there is no “them.” There is only “us.” We stand together against all forms of religious discrimination, hatred, and racism.

I also encourage everyone to review our personal safety tips. If you need to speak to someone about yesterday’s events, please reach out to our Counseling Center for confidential, caring assistance. If you are an employee in need of this help, please contact HR about our Employee Assistance Program or other resources.

Again today, we can honor those who have been attacked and those who have lost their lives by working to defeat hate, while sustaining our culture of respect. Join me in working to make Henry Ford College a welcoming, thriving community in which all community members can be proudly visible and safe.

Russ Kavalhuna, J.D.
Henry Ford College