Published: Feb. 2, 2022

As we move further into the spring semester, I hope you all are hanging in there. The weather is getting colder, we are getting snow and midterms will be underway soon, which can make this a tough time of year.

Recent events also have some of us feeling uneasy, frustrated and anxious, as there have been threats toward campus communities across the nation. One of these incidents hit close to home on Tuesday morning with a shelter-in-place order issued for residences near campus, and many threats this week have been directed toward historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the nation. 

My heart goes out to those who are experiencing trauma and fear from recent events. Things can feel scary right now, and I want you to know that I’m here for you and stand with you. During stressful times, I encourage you to take care of yourselves and stay connected with your Buff community. You never know what someone may be going through. This month, take some time to show compassion, participate in acts of kindness and learn about Black history.

Recognizing Black History Month

This month, it’s important to recognize Black history and the contributions of so many African Americans who have helped us be better. I encourage you to spend time this month learning about Black history, whether it’s through articles, music, film, books or podcasts. Seek out Black creators, stories and voices that you may not always engage with. A good place to start is by participating in the Black History Month Racial Equity #BeTheChange Challenge through the Center for Inclusion and Social Change

I also invite you to attend a special lecture and musical event on Monday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. Galen Abdur-Razzaq is a featured artist providing music entertainment and lectures around the country as part of Flute Juice Productions. He will be joining us virtually to discuss jazz music and the Civil Rights Movement. You can register for the event here—I hope to see you there. 

Expressing gratitude and kindness

During tough times, I have found that expressing gratitude can help me feel a little better. So, I want to take a moment and share my gratitude for our Buff family. As I’ve mentioned before, we have all been through a lot together over the last several months. We’ve leaned on each other and looked out for each other. You have shown resilience and courage, and I’m thankful for those who continuously do the right thing such as, wearing masks and adhering to public health orders. Our Buff community is special and I’m grateful to be a part of it. 

This month, I encourage you to find ways to express gratitude and kindness. Show kindness for yourselves and those in your community. Connect with your fellow Buffs and express gratitude at events later this month with Health and Wellness Services. A small act of kindness can go a long way.

Finding support

Campus resources are available to you throughout the year, and I encourage you to use them whenever you need support:

I also want to know how you’re doing and how we can best support you. Please reach out to me by emailing

Take care, 

JB Banks

Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs