The following message is sent on behalf of Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch and Student Government President Miles Middleton (’21).
Dear Wake Forest Community,
Greetings! We send this message and call to action in a spirit of unity and with a sense of optimism for the semester ahead. We believe in Our Way Forward and are proud of the planning and preparation undertaken by so many Wake Forest faculty, staff and students. While changing conditions will continue to require us to adapt, we remain committed to delivering a superb academic and community experience.
This fall, we have a unique opportunity to show the world the meaning of our motto: Pro Humanitate. While it is often interpreted as elevating the collective cause of humanity, its closest interpretation may be a call to cultivate a spirit of learning and kindness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that we are individually responsible for the wellbeing of our community. Wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of distance with other people and washing our hands isn’t just about protecting ourselves, but about protecting everyone with whom we come into contact. These practices protect our health care system from being overwhelmed, protect our economy by keeping people working and, this fall, will protect Wake Forest’s ability to fulfill its mission.
You may have already seen our message of “Show Humanitate” communicated through social media. This call to action — showing our humanity — will be online and on campus this semester as a constant reminder to demonstrate personal responsibility for the wellbeing of others. We believe so strongly that this is the key to a successful semester, not to mention a successful life, that we are going to ask for a formal commitment to this mindset.
Leading the effort to Show Humanitate, 17 undergraduate student leaders consulted with more than 150 students this summer to establish a student compact that articulates a commitment to behaviors that will keep our community healthy. We are grateful for their thoughtful approach and wholeheartedly endorse this student-led effort. The compact is complemented by a Public Health Emergency Addendum to the Undergraduate Conduct Code and COVID-19 Prevention and Harm Reduction Behaviors that protect the integrity of our efforts. Additionally, students will be required to complete an online training regarding expectations for the fall. The information required to complete the necessary action steps and affirm your commitment to the health of our community will be sent on Thursday, August 6.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, John Neville and so many before them remind us that inequality and injustice is not limited to public health disparities. For many in our community, the current pandemic and racial injustice are two sides of the same coin. We can’t espouse the values of Pro Humanitate without recommitting to learn from and support each other in a more equitable and welcoming community. For those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, we see you, appreciate you and stand with you. For those on the front lines of the fight against white supremacy, homophobia and bigotry of any kind, we see you, appreciate you and stand with you.
This semester is going to challenge all of us in new and unexpected ways. We embrace this challenge and celebrate a creative group of faculty, students and staff working this summer to plan programming and events that ensure this semester embodies the Wake Forest that we all love. This team envisions outdoor movies, concerts, trivia nights and other events that remind us of the “social” aspect of social distancing. But it will take all of our creative energies to replace the usual parties, big gatherings and traditional Wake Forest events. Drawing upon the best of our community, we look forward to your contributions to shape a vibrant and good life for all who are here.
Undoubtedly, this semester will require some sacrifices, but the Wake Forest experience is worth the effort. More importantly, the health of our friends, families and those in our community is worth the effort. Together, let’s show the world the meaning of Pro Humanitate.
Nathan O. Hatch
Wake Forest University President
Miles Middleton (’21)
Wake Forest Student Government President