Dear students, faculty and staff:

At the University of Washington, we are honored to collaborate with students, faculty and staff from around the globe. The Department of Global Health, our School of Public Health, and our University would not be the world-class institutions they are without their contributions.

Many of us feel outrage, pain and/or fear in light of a national dialogue on immigration policy that featured vulgar comments about Africa and Haiti. We condemn the racist and hate-filled overtones of the debate. The language is unacceptable and would surely result in a rebuke in our School and on our campus.

Please know that we stand strong with all our students, faculty and staff from around the world – including those who are from or work in African countries and in Haiti – to improve health, reduce disparities, and build more resilient, sustainable communities.

We are privileged to work side-by-side with international colleagues, both in the United States and in many vibrant communities around the world. These collaborations are the foundation and inspiration for our work.

It is ironic that this latest offensive tirade occurred just as we prepare to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – a man who was dedicated to fighting injustice and serving humanity. To demonstrate our solidarity against racism, we encourage you to join the Seattle MLK celebration and rally this Monday, Jan. 15, starting at Garfield High School, or the events and day of service sponsored by the UW. On Thursday, the Health Sciences schools will hold an annual celebration honoring those who have made commitments to serving communities in need.

Whatever you choose to do, let’s focus on working together to reaffirm our commitment to our shared values of equity, diversity and social justice. We stand side by side against hate. Together, we can build a just and healthy world.

Joel Kaufman, MD, MPH
Interim Dean, University of Washington School of Public Health
Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Medicine, and Epidemiology

Judith N Wasserheit
Chair, Department of Global Health
Professor, Global Health, Medicine and Epidemiology