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Orlando June 2016 shooting

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Rebecca Chopp

Letter  •

To: All DU students, faculty and staff

The University of Denver mourns the lives lost and forever changed by the massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, this past weekend during the club's Latin Night. We are united in solidarity with the victims and their families and friends, the citizens of Orlando, the members of the colleges and universities many of these young victims attended, and with an America that is grappling with grief and outrage at this horrific act of violence against the LGBT community and attack against our democracy.

We strive to be an intentional community, one whose members are connected wherever they are. This week we are connected in sadness as well as support for one another. Our community may not have any known direct connections to victims of the massacre, yet we are all connected in expressions of our solidarity with Orlando:

  • We came together on the DU campus on Monday, June 13, for a moment of silence and communal sharing of individual reactions to the Orlando massacre. Read a story and watch a video capturing this moving event on our new Newsroom website.
  • DU continues to add its voice with others in the Denver and Rocky Mountain community through sharing our campus events and expressing our support through the media. See our DU Pride portal for links and information.
  • On Tuesday, June 14, DU answered a nationwide callout requesting that bells toll in unison at 6:30 p.m. MDT; the bell inside DU’s Williams Carillon Tower rang 49 times, once for each of the victims in Orlando.
  • We join others in not letting this tragedy stop our resolve and our commitment to create a better place—here at DU and across the world—where values such as integrity and inclusiveness lead to action. Many of our DU community members are sharing their commitment to action through social media, using the Twitter hashtag #iwillDUmore.

Beyond DU and Denver, a statement by Carol Geary Schneider of the American Association of College and University Presidents connects the Orlando tragedy with others in our recent history and talks about the role higher education can play. As a member of the board of that group, I was pleased to be associated with the message.

Across the University of Denver, we will continue to promote the values of freedom, democracy and inclusion that represent the ideals of our nation—even though we have, as a nation and as an institution, not always realized those ideals.

I want to acknowledge and thank those who quickly took action as soon as the news of Orlando broke on Sunday to develop a response and bring our community together, with special thanks to Thomas Walker, who directs CME educational programs and LGBTIQA services, and who led efforts surrounding Monday’s event.

Looking ahead, we have opportunities to continue building more inclusiveness and awareness and respect for our rich differences, and to make our intentional community stronger. One opportunity is coming up this weekend, at the Denver PrideFest. DU will have a booth, our 10th consecutive year of participating in one of the nation’s largest Pride festivals.

Finally, I urge anyone who feels the need to do so to use the resources available to our DU community members:

Campus Resources

Employees: Employee Assistance Program–303-871-2205
Students: Health and Counseling Center–303-871-2205
DU LGBTIQ&Ally Services (non-counseling): 
All members of the University community: Religious and Spiritual Life – 303-871-4488


Rebecca Chopp