March 12, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff of Hobart and William Smith Colleges:
Over the past few days change has presented itself to our campus community in various formats. Many people are concerned about their health, families, neighbors, academics, finances, and the overall well-being of our global community. I am extremely heart-warmed by the expressions of love and concern exhibited by our community. From concern for children in our public schools, to faculty helping each other learn how to teach in new formats, to sensitivity for those whose life circumstances are rapidly evolving, we have demonstrated that we are a campus that cares for each other.
While we take the necessary precautions, we must realize that there are elements of this global pandemic which are beyond our control. Therefore, we must be cognizant of what we can control, and be vigilant to recognize our shared humanity. We often seek to rationalize why unfavorable events occur, and develop scapegoats to satisfy our desire to place difficult episodes in neat boxes. This does not create security, but rather severs the bonds that we have as a human family. The way we treat each other and respect the dignity of all people in our most difficult hour will outweigh the impact of any virus.
Health professionals advise us to wash our hands constantly to spread the risk of infection. As the Dean of Spiritual Engagement, I ask that we develop a practice of cleansing our thoughts every time that we reach for the hand sanitizer. Let love flow over our hearts for one another as the soap lathers over our hands. Remember to encourage each other and support each other at every level. I am encouraged by the words of Hobart Alumnus, the Most Reverend Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry who reminded us of the following:
…we are in this together, we can walk through this together, and we will find our way in our life together.
So look out for your neighbors, look out for each other. Look out for yourselves. Listen to those who have knowledge that can help to guide us medically and help to guide us socially. Do everything that we can to do this together, to respond to each other’s needs and to respond to our own needs.
Walk together children, don’t get weary, because there’s a great camp meeting in the promised land. 
We are all fortunate to have each other, and our relationships are invaluable as we move forward. The Office of Spiritual Engagement, including Abbe Center Director Julianne Miller, and Program Director Jennifer Tufano are here to be a support to you, so please do not hesitate to email or call us with ideas or concerns that you may have.
The Reverend Nita C. Johnson Byrd