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College Life | Undergraduate | Online Classes | Graduate

Dear Jackrabbits

Dear Jackrabbits: The following is an open letter to all incoming and returning members of the SDSU family addressing your role in a safe, respectful and successful return to campus, from the mascot who can’t wait to see you, Jack the Jackrabbit.


A few months ago I wrote a letter to family members, friends and other loved ones of our beloved students. I asked them to help support our students through the many challenges the pandemic has created.


I’d like to make another request for support. This time, though, I’m asking you, our students, to support each other. Why? You are all living a shared part of your college experience—a substantial formative time in and of itself—through a substantial formative time for our world. When you think about it that way, this might be one of the biggest, most important group project of which you’ve ever been a part.


As we navigate this global pandemic and national call for equity and justice, we should never let our differences divide us. This is our opportunity to show the spirit of what it truly means to be a Jackrabbit, and do that toghether. When you’re a member of the SDSU community, no matter what space you’re in, we are committed to helping you with that navigation.


Campus was quiet for far too long. We are beyond thrilled to have you back. And now that you’re here,  we want you to be able to stay here. To make that happen, each one of us needs to commit to putting our best jackrabbit foot forward in the pursuit of personal and community safety, global citizenship and meaningful academic and extracurricular collegiate experiences.


At the core of this message is care. I can’t think of anything that showcases that core of care more than the core values of our university. Let me tell you a little bit about how these values can guide us all through this trying time in our history.


Core Value: People-Centered


What this means in terms of a pandemic

The people at SDSU are our No. 1 priority. You are our No. 1 priority. Putting people at the center of what we do here equates to putting the health, safety and overall well-being of those people first. As a person in this community, you can and will be expected to contribute, too.


Follow required guidelines for wearing face coverings in our public buildings; adhere to facility occupancy limits, social distancing and traffic flow regulations; and, commit to frequent hand-washing, sanitizing and good hygiene. This is so crucial, in fact, that we are going to literally provide you with the tools you need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.


What this means in terms of social awareness

Let me say it again: you are our No. 1 priority. Living in a safe and just world where all members of the campus community feel safe, protected and connected is paramount. As a person in this community, you can and will be expected to contribute. There will be difficult conversations. Interact and communicate in a way that builds mutual respect and understanding. Share your perspective. Jackrabbits have large ears for a reason; use yours to listen to the perspectives of others—especially those different from your own. Treat yourself and others with grace, patience and flexibility.


Above all else, keep people at the center of your interactions.


Core Value: Creativity


What this means in terms of a pandemic

We need to find creative ways to connect with each other. Right now, part of connection means maintaining a safe social distance of at least 6 feet from one another. It can also mean taking advantage of available outdoor spaces on campus or embracing the different kind of closeness that a Zoom call can provide. Our community is strong in large part because of our ability to connect with one another. Let’s keep it that way in new, safe and creative ways.


What this means in terms of social awareness

Use your time at SDSU to critically think about how you see the world, and challenge what you think you already know about it. The point is to determine exactly what it is you want to learn and then go after that knowledge. Talk less often, think more critically and listen the most.


We all have one very important thing in common—we’re Jackrabbits. Outside of that, we should all feel free, safe and respected enough to hop to the beat of our own drums. This means exploring and expressing your identity in your own way and allowing for every other person to do the same. And that will only serve to enhance a community that is both awesome in its organic diversity and efforts toward inclusion.


Core Value: Integrity


What this means in terms of a pandemic
Do what you are supposed to do and when you are supposed to do it. Model established rules and protocols responsibly. Think seriously about the potential consequences of your choices and the impact they could have on others. How you conduct yourself on and off campus has always mattered. However, now the stakes may be much higher.


Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse for neglecting what you’re here to do—attend classes and do the required work. If you struggle along the way, that’s OK. There are many campus supports available to you to help you stay physically, mentally and academically healthy. I can’t stress this enough, please seek help when you need it.  


What this means in terms of social awareness

Ask questions, share perspectives, be honest and do it with decency. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to disagree in a respectful way. Every student, faculty and staff member brings a unique value to our campus. Civility is the standard; understanding is the goal. With integrity, we can reach both.


Core Value: Diversity


What this means in terms of a pandemic

Every experience with the pandemic has been and will continue to be different from yours. In fact, we know there are students, faculty and staff members:

  • who have been exposed to and contracted COVID-19;
  • whose family members contracted COVID-19;
  • who lived in fear of contracting COVID-19 because they still had to report to work;
  • with underlying conditions that already threaten their health every day who now also have a novel virus to fear;
  • who lost jobs, housing and ability to purchase food for themselves;
  • who are facing discrimination related to the origin of COVID-19;
  • who are coming to campus from states that have had very restrictive quarantine and closure orders and some who may not have felt the effects of a mandated quarantine at all;
  • whose environments, beliefs, political views, cultural backgrounds, intrinsic values and external influences have led to them reach any number of conclusions around COVID-19.


We’re willing to bet you can relate to at least one of the scenarios listed. With that in mind, it’s only practical that you and every individual person respect the varying levels of comfort with interaction, participation, and measures of physical safety of every other person.


Bottom line: you don’t have to have lived a specific experience to be able to acknowledge, accept and respect its existence.


What this means in terms of social awareness

The first thing to understand about diversity is that it’s important, ever-changing and here to stay. That’s a very good thing, especially in an environment where people have chosen to pursue a level of education meant to prepare them for modern-day society (which, by the way, is also diverse and ever-changing). We’ve got to keep up! In fact, those of you who embrace this journey will go further in life.  You can take the first active step by mastering your listening skills, pay attention to those around you, and ask questions when you don’t understand someone’s experience or perspective.


To welcome others’ ideas is to include them. Did you know this simple thing can go a long way to empower, dignify and cultivate a culture of belonging? Wouldn’t it be cool if, despite all of our awesome differences, we all felt a sense of belonging wherever we are, whomever we’re with and in our own skin? Absolutely!


Core Value: Excellence


What this means in terms of a pandemic

The pandemic does not dictate your personal values or character any more than it defines your ability to learn and to succeed. You can still be superb, outstanding and great at whatever it is you choose to pursue. It’s going to look a little different for a while, and that’s OK. The pandemic has made our community a more creative and caring place. Make every Zoom call the best Zoom call until the next one. Be the person whose positivity can be felt from 6 feet away. The pandemic is going to impact your experience, but it doesn’t have to define it.


What this means in terms of social awareness

Be excellent to one another. By staying true to yourself, while opening your mind to personal growth, you can engage in constructive conversations and deliberate discourse that can make you excellently empathetic and more open to perspectives.


2020 isn’t what we all expected it to be, but still has potential to be better than we thought it could be. 2020 isn’t canceled. We’re moving forward, we’re coming back and we’re doing it the Jackrabbit way.


Chins and ears up, Jacks. We’re back!


Jack the Jackrabbit

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