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Director’s message on supporting our students

June 6, 2020

Dear Jackson School Students,

As the Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, I write to add my voice to the chorus of outrage that can be heard across the nation and the world. Sadly, the events that led to the most recent demonstrations have been with us for a very long time. Many of us try to understand in our research and courses racism, violence and inequality that have been integral to our history. At the same time, we see the power of social movements, collective action and a reimagining of state-society relations and a different global order in the wake of so much loss.

We also know and understand that the events of the past weeks have fallen especially hard on our Black and Brown students. We know that the global pandemic has also resulted in xenophobia and racism directed to Asian and Asian American students. We also know that many of our students confront severe economic crisis; others have lost loved ones and are emotionally and physically spent caring for others.

I want to say clearly that I hear you asking for our understanding, and I have encouraged all our faculty and staff to respond thoughtfully and with compassion.

The UW leadership has asked us to be creative and empathetic as we adapt our course requirements to the stresses and strains of the current moment. Although we cannot impose a single policy on all our courses, my colleagues are considering some of the options already mentioned by our deans, president and provost, options like allowing extra time for final projects, making final exams optional, and finding other ways to support students. I should also remind you that you are now able to change current courses from numeric grades to S/NS designations. In short, we have some tools to help each other and I suggest that we use them.

As most of you go into finals week and seniors prepare for graduation, I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that we are full of respect and admiration as you have endured perhaps the most dreadful spring quarter in our history. And yet, in the Jackson School we know that the world has seen bleak moments, and people have somehow found the resilience to respond. We know you are strong but I pledge that we will do all we can to make these final days of the spring quarter just a bit easier.


Professor Reşat Kasaba
Stanley D. Golub Chair and Director
Jackson School of International Studies