Dear Parents,

I am sure that many of you are looking forward to welcoming your students home for the end of the semester. And I feel certain that all of our students, whether they are spending interim break at home, taking classes on campus, studying abroad or participating in an externship, are looking forward to an extended breather!  With the weather growing cooler and classwork piling up like the falling leaves, this is usually a time for hunkering down and focusing on getting through final papers, lab reports and exams.

Recently, however, our attention as a community has been drawn to both broad internal challenges and external events. As many of you are probably aware, demonstrations and public conversations about race relations are happening at a number of campuses across the country, and these events have sparked discussion here at Lafayette. Last month, a group of concerned students organized a public forum called “More than Mizzou: Race, Activism, and Resistance on College Campuses.” At a time when too many difficult issues are played out through anonymous postings on social media, I am proud that our students took the initiative to call for public dialogue on this complex topic.

The recent events in Paris have affected our community as well, and reminded us of the tragedy that can ensue when violence replaces dialogue as a means of negotiating difference.

While discussion of such issues can seem an added pressure in a student’s already busy life, I believe it is a very positive aspect of today’s campus culture that students are not satisfied with just doing their work and ignoring the world outside. They see their own community as a microcosm of the larger world, and want to address the issues that concern them in the universe that they feel they can control. I believe that this prepares them well to become leaders who someday will change the world beyond Lafayette’s campus.

Best wishes to you and your family for a pleasant holiday.

Alison Byerly