Valencia Trustee to Students and Staff: Be Strong, Don’t Be Afraid

To the Valencia Community:

First and foremost, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, as well as the entire Valencia community of students, faculty, staff and loved ones, I wish to express my very deepest sympathies to any who may have been touched by the darkness that struck our community early Sunday.  I hope that no one in our immediate family was harmed, but I fear that, given the scope of what happened, the chances are great that many of us were touched.

Lew Oliver new
Lew Oliver, chair of the Valencia College Board of Trustees

Since the dawn of time, the greatest strength of any community has been its ability to comfort and assist the suffering of its members.  Take therefore a moment to offer a wish or prayer for the well-being and comfort of those in pain, and rest assured that every imaginable resource at the disposal of this College will be devoted to bringing whatever comfort and security that may be offered to our entire community, both to those directly impacted by the worst, and to all others who may require reassurance or comfort.  The administration will have more on this shortly.

Second, please note that the twisted minds that do these things feed on our reactions to this, and hope that we will turn on each other like poor souls trapped in the broken worlds from which their hate arises.  Do not give them the satisfaction.

Remember that it is very heart of our glorious national experiment that every man and woman is responsible only for the content of their own hearts and the actions of their own hands, and none of us bears responsibility – or deserves blame – for what the sick and the evil may do in the name of something we hold dear.  The greatest of things are sometimes done by those of no faith at all, and the worst of things are sometimes done by those with the greatest faith of all.  No faith and no person is immune from evil or mental illness.

The thing that did this evil does not pass you in the halls at Valencia, and some who do pass you in the halls may be more afraid right now than you (and very likely as angry).  Don’t let them be afraid.  Be bigger than that.  Be strong.  Good eventually conquers evil because it is good, not because it is meaner or more vigilant or more cautious.

And to all of the Valencia community of every faith and no faith, of every nationality or no nationality, and of every race or ability or particular flavor of heart, so long as you are part of us and desire only to learn, you are welcome here, and we will do everything we can to make you feel safe.   This is not a statement of political correctness, this is ordinary human decency, which all peoples everywhere share.

Finally, take a moment to hug or call your friends and loved ones to tell them how much they mean to you.  And recall too that everyone you will ever love would wish most of you that, upon their untimely departure from us, that you would perhaps nurture fond memories, but mostly that  – after a moment to grieve – you would get on with your lives and find the joys and accomplishments and loves that make life such a splendid gift to begin with.  That is the only memorial to them that counts.  Evil has snatched from us dozens of precious lives.  Let us resolve firmly to end the loss there.


Lew Oliver
Valencia College Board of Trustees