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The Resilience of Our Campus Community

(11/9/2011, 4:15 p.m.)


Dear Students,

As a campus community, we are all still struggling to make sense of this tragedy. How can any conflict or argument be worth a human life? There is a simple answer to that question. It can’t. There are absolutely no differences that any of us can have with anyone that are worth the loss of life. The investigation is still under way, so we don’t yet know what instigated the conflict that led to Kortneigh’s death. In so many ways, though, whatever it was doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant, because it certainly wasn’t worth the life of a bright, talented, and caring young woman.

St. Francis of Assisi once wrote that one should seek to understand, rather than to be understood. It’s wonderfully wise advice, but not always easy to follow. We all have a need to be understood, to feel validated, and to be appreciated. Perhaps this strong, innately human hunger we all feel to be affirmed by others is what stokes much of the interpersonal conflict in our world today. Many of us feel the need to win, to prevail in arguments, to impose our views on others. I believe, though, that one of the defining characteristics of an educated person is a genuine interest in understanding the perspectives and viewpoints of others, and gaining insight into what has shaped perspectives that are different from our own.

Some of you are asking what you can do. First, listen to each other. And, I mean truly listen, with your ears, your eyes, and your heart. If you do so, the person you are listening to will know that he or she has been heard. Just knowing that someone took the time and effort to truly listen can be enormously healing, for all involved. Take the risk of being vulnerable and open to the opinions and thoughts of others.

Pause or think twice before you click “send.” Be thoughtful about the power of words in texts or postings to social media such as Facebook. Many conflicts are escalated in this arena. It is definitely not the place to resolve conflicts.

Be gentle with others. You never know what burdens they may have on their shoulders. Therefore, we cannot know how deeply they may be hurt by an insensitive remark or comment.

Be gentle with yourself. Take time for yourself to reflect, to pay attention to what’s going on within you. Find productive ways to deal with stress. Take a walk, go for a swim. Turn off your cell phones. Perform a random act of kindness. Breathe. Know that seeking assistance from others is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Take comfort in knowing that you are part of a caring and resilient campus community, where faculty and staff are genuinely concerned about your safety and welfare, and where we expect that each individual will be treated with absolute respect.


Thomas L. Bowling, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student and Educational Services

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589