Published May 16, 2022
President Satish K. Tripathi and other UB administrators offered messages of condolence and support to the victims of Saturday’s racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, as well as to members of the UB community.
Officials also promised to continue promoting racial and social justice on campus and in Western New York.
“Our hearts are with the 10 people who lost their lives today, along with their grieving families, all those who were injured, and all those who were traumatized by the mass shooting that occurred this afternoon in a Tops Supermarket in the City of Buffalo,” Tripathi said in a statement to the UB community Saturday evening.
“We are deeply disturbed to learn that this hate-fueled crime was racially motivated, according to official reports.
“As we grieve together, we must wrap our arms around each other. Let us bear witness to the humanity in each and every one of us. Let us, in our words and deeds, intentionally cultivate here at UB a community that is characterized by justice, respect, compassion and understanding. As a scholarly community, we have both the power and the responsibility to combat hate. And to that, we are deeply committed,” Tripathi said.
“If you are grieving or traumatized, please know that you are not struggling alone. UB’s Counseling Services is available to help you. In addition, UB’s Intercultural and Diversity Center offers a safe space for students.”
The IDC held a community conversation with students on Sunday, providing a time and space for students to process the tragic events. Student Life staff and university leadership will continue to meet with students and employees to discuss their concerns about personal safety.
Other members of UB’s leadership team echoed Tripathi’s sentiments of condolence and support, and many reiterated the president’s suggestion that UB community members take advantage of the resources UB is offering to support members of the university community in dealing with the tragedy.
“It is disturbing beyond belief to learn that this was a racist-fueled attack carried out by a white supremacist on a predominately Black community,” said Keith A. Alford, dean of the School of Social Work. “To our Black students and colleagues in particular, I grieve this tragedy with you.
“While I know we are in space of pain at this very moment, we must still uphold our cardinal value of the worth and dignity of humankind. We will persevere and remain united. We will continue to lift up one another and the communities we serve. Together we will remain steadfast in boldly promoting racial and social justice. Racism will not thrive!”
Julius Gregg Adams, executive director of the Educational Opportunity Center, noted that many former or current EOC students, as well as colleagues and friends, shop at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue. “So the pain is a little deeper, the sadness a little harsher, and the frustration and fear a little harder to cope with,” he said.
“I encourage you to reach out to someone close to you, hug them and thank them for being a friend. This is a time that we must pull together, forgive and love each other, and not let the sadness and fear precipitated by such hatred continue to keep us apart.”
In a message to the College of Arts and Science community, Dean Robin Schulze and Theresa McCarthy, associate dean for inclusive excellence, wrote that the tragedy “compels us to address crucial questions of ‘why’ and ‘what can be done?’”
“As members of a university community committed to research and inquiry, it is more critical today than ever before to advance the work that helps us to better understand the systems, structures and constructs that enable and incite racially motivated violence,” they wrote.
“The College of Arts and Sciences is home to many student and faculty scholars on the frontlines of the fight against racism and white supremacy. While we remain committed to supporting and expanding work in these areas, we must also recognize that it is the responsibility of everyone in our community to amplify, organize and act in support of these imperatives.”
Gary Pollack, dean of the School of Pharmacy, noted that the school has a longstanding relationship with Tops through its experiential education program and through alumni who have worked in Tops pharmacies. “We will be communicating our sympathies, and our support, to our partners at Tops in the days to come,” he said.
“Our school prepares students for careers serving others, and our host community is especially diverse, racially, religiously and economically,” Pollack said. “When it comes to hate, we have a special obligation to be vigilant, and to push back forcefully when we see it. There is no more important issue for which we can ask the question ‘If not us, then who?’”
Allison Brashear, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, pointed out that the tragedy at the Tops market “happened in our own backyard.”
“We are part of this Buffalo community — these are our neighbors, our patients, our friends and co-workers,” Brashear said. “As current and future scientists, health care workers and members of the community, it is our duty to fight the hatred and falsehoods that indoctrinate others and give them false purpose to commit such acts.
“Racism, bigotry, and hatred must not be allowed to stand,” she said. “We must raise our voices as one and make clear, by our words and by our actions, that hate has no place here.”
Aviva Abramovsky, dean of the School of Law, said the School of Law community “is outraged by such vile depravity and stands in solidarity with all those affected, particularly the members of our Black community.”
Abramovsky quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall: “Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold; binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice. No one benefits from racism.”
“As we grapple with the darkness of yesterday’s events, know that you are not alone,” Abramovsky said. “Together we grieve, and together we must lift each other up and remain united in our fight for justice, peace and love.”
In a message posted to the Graduate School of Education website, Dean Suzanne Rosenblith and Chief Diversity Officer Raechele Pope wrote that while all the information regarding the motivation of the shooter is not yet available, “there is ample evidence that this tragic event was another racially motivated violent act and hate crime against Black people. The racial motivations of the shooter somehow deepen the grief, trauma, harm and outrage exponentially felt because of the seemingly endless violence targeting Black people, especially over the last several years.”
They urged members of the GSE community to take advantage of the resources UB has to offer.
“These past few years have been hard, and it is difficult to sit with the realization that it is not getting any easier,” they wrote. “This stress and trauma are often cumulative, so we must prioritize our mental health and well-being.
“Please take care of yourselves and each other. Please know that GSE is here for you if you need any assistance. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need additional resources or support.”
Stefan Ruhl, interim dean of the School of Dental Medicine, stressed to members of the dental school community that the school “is guided by the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. We are a diverse, united community, guided by a love for our profession that has the power to overcome the forces of evil and shall radiate beyond the limits of our campus to our communities.
“Our prayers are with their families and loved ones,” Ruhl said. “Our unwavering solidarity is with the terrified surrounding neighbors and community. This is a time for us to stay united in spirit and recognize each other as the human beings we are.”
In a statement to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences community, Dean Kemper Lewis; Rajan Batta, associate dean for faculty affairs and diversity; and Letitia Thomas, assistant dean for diversity, wrote that community members have personally experienced loss in this tragedy, “and when one member of our community hurts, we all hurt.”
“As a SEAS community of students, staff and faculty, together as learners, educators, researchers and scholars, we have the power, responsibility and opportunity to join together with each other and with our colleagues from all across UB and around our city to stand for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion,” they wrote.
“Let's amplify our unified commitment to learn, serve and lead through our work, impassioned by our commitment to impact our communities with compassion, empathy and understanding.”
Robert Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, said the school is “shocked and heartbroken, grieving for all our neighbors who are the victims and their families, our city and our region. In solidarity, we lift up one another with open hearts, compassion, respect, and love.
“Looking through our grief, the School of Architecture and Planning continues its work with UB and so many others in the city and region, embracing the values of equity and justice,” Shibley said. “Together we are smothering hate and dismantling the legacies of racism.”
Paul Tesluk, dean of the School of Management, said the thoughts and prayers of the school community are with those who died and were injured, and their families.
“Consistent with our values of advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, this tragedy should motivate us to come together as a community to continue to collectively denounce and act against hate and violence in all its ugly and horrific forms, whether it be racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation or otherwise,” Tesluk said.
In a statement posted on the School of Nursing website, Dean Marsha Lewis; Amy Hequembourg, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion; Yu-Ping Chang, senior associate dean; and Sarah Goldthrite, director of communications, told members of the nursing community that as health care professionals, “it is our duty to stand for justice and to fight racism at every turn.”
“It is our duty and our calling to help defeat racism and racial injustice, as we all well know that racism is a public health crisis. We at the School of Nursing are wholeheartedly committed to taking deliberate steps to combat the hate that is engulfing our nation. Solidarity against hatred is our best weapon. Embrace your fellow nurses and lean on your personal support systems to process your grief and help heal the deep wounds in our community resulting from this heinous event.”
Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, noted the victims of the mass shooting were people who were just living their lives. “They were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, co-workers, friends and neighbors,” she said. “Their loss has left an immense hole in the lives of many in our community, and we must never forget them.
“These past few years have been difficult in so many ways. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but, now more than ever, we need to stand together,” Wactawski-Wende said. “These acts of violence cannot continue. We are community. We need to support each other. Most importantly, we need to stand with and support those who were directly impacted by this tragedy.”
Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost for University Libraries, said the UB Libraries “stands against hate and intolerance in all forms.”
“As we remember the victims and their families, we recommit ourselves to ensuring a safe and inclusive environment in our libraries, embracing diversity and respecting our differences,” she said.
“We are stronger together. Let us all strive to find compassion and grace, and to come together as a community to support each other as best we can.”
Brian F. Hamluk, vice president for student life, emphasized that there are a number of resources available to the campus community “to help process the trauma, grief, pain and fear that we all may be feeling.”
In addition to Counseling Services and the Intercultural and Diversity Center, both of which are available to students, UB’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides confidential consultations, one-on-one meetings and referrals to specialists for UB employees and their families.
“As we grieve together, it’s important that we continue to support our students and staff at this crucial moment,” Hamluk said. “Please know that our leadership team cares for you and stands with you.”
Thank you for these beautiful words of support. UB's swift message with information on its resources brings a bit of comfort.
Denise M Daley