2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 16, 2017

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

On the eve of the beginning of our spring semester, I write to you in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and our ongoing commitment as a campus community to bringing about a more just and equitable world. The life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King continues to be a beacon to all those who have worked so very hard and for so very long to bring about a world where diversity is celebrated and inclusivity is the norm.

Over the past six months, I have been deeply engaged in understanding what those efforts look like here at Puget Sound, whether through the work of the Race and Pedagogy Institute and community partners; organizations including the Black Student Union, Black Alumni Union, Latinx Unidos, Queer Alliance, Advocates for Institutional Change, and others; the leadership provided by our Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement; the meaningful ways in which faculty members are advancing our curriculum; and more efforts than I can name in this brief message. I am proud to be associated with an institution that is active on so many fronts to bring about the change we wish to see in the world—starting here on our own campus.

To that end, I note that what we seek to do is just as important as how we go about doing it. As I quoted Dr. King in a campus message last fall: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

These are words to live by, especially in these times of deep uncertainty as our country prepares for the peaceful transition of leadership that is a foundation of our democracy. As a liberal arts college community, we are ideally suited—and, I believe, morally obligated—to promote full, open, and civil discussion both on our campus and in our country.

A brief report on what I have been up to in this regard: During the winter break, I attended meetings of the Council of Independent Colleges, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and Annapolis Group to discuss and better understand how we might shape policy as we move into the era of the next presidential administration. Next month, I head to Washington D.C. to meet with our Congressional delegation, and meanwhile we continue to follow very closely the development of the bi-partisan proposal for The BRIDGE Act, proposed by Senators Graham (R-SC) and Durbin (D-IL), that would bring into law protections for students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy. Related to this, Dean Bartanen and I met with several faculty members last week to talk more about our institution’s support of undocumented members of our community.

I was also pleased to see such a great turnout for our professional development conference last week, where staff and faculty members participated in cultural literacy training with racial justice educator Dr. Shakti Butler. Our efforts continue this semester with teach-ins, educational fora, lectures, and other opportunities to engage in our collective responsibility to address the most pressing issues of our time.

Let us begin by gathering together in Schneebeck Concert Hall at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 17, for our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, featuring labor economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux. I look forward to seeing you there as we begin a new semester.

The work—our work, and the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King—continues.


Isiaah Crawford | President