Shields Up: Being A Science Leader in Tough Times
This was a terrible weekend. Americans died fighting against hatred and bigotry. Images of angry racist torch wielding mobs we thought we would never see in our country were all over the news.
As much as these events have gutted me as a person and a parent, my struggle is nowhere near as great of that of my students. I can’t imagine the horror my student from Guam experiences listening to fools talk about her family and country with total disregard for them as humans. I think her heart must already be cracked in ways I can not understand being this far from where she grew up. I can not imagine being a person of color who has embraced education only to see our country turning to ignorance. I literally can not.
I can send money to organizations doing good things for Charlottesville and listen to scared people and fall back on what I know to be true.
I depend enormously during these times on lab huddles. These are my daily morning meetings in the lab where everyone knows I’m there. I will talk about anything: science, planning, cat gifs, papers, politics…..whatever.
I go into lab the same way before each huddle saying “Good Morning! Good Morning!” because I want them to know it is always good to see them. It is always good to know they are safe. I want them to know I appreciate them being there.
The symbolism each of our universities have in this time that gives me meaning is our shields. Academia is surrounded by these images. We aren’t given pointy sticks to fight, but shields with logos about truth and honor and inclusiveness.
I’ll be in huddle to do my best at offering a shield to my students. I’ll sit in lab and listen and dole out mental health days to people who are sure they don’t need them. I’ll listen and try to learn more about them. And I’ll bring in cookies or tea and tell them our shield and our values in academia mean something. That they are safe here.