100,000 = 9

When the horrific milestone of 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths was announced, it has taken me a while to fully comprehend the enormity of our loss.  While there are strong visual images--for example, the front page of the New York Times, for the first time in its history, had no images, but posted instead the names of 1,000 of those who died--the magnitude of what is happening still seems incomprehensible.

Now, I see the impact of that number in  a context relates to all of us--at West and the District.

The loss of 100,000 of our fellow citizens (and this number continues to rise, for there are no consistent signs of decline) equals....us...our headcount of students this spring.

12,708 at LACC
23,042 at ELAC
  7,791 at Harbor
  8,808 at Mission                                A total of 111,620
16,097 at Pierce
  5,257 at Southwest
11,695 at LATTC
14,998 at Valley
11,224 at West

Think about that for a moment.  The death toll is roughly equivalent to every student disappearing from every one of our campuses in a three-month period.

Saying that "we're all in this together" has quickly become a time-worn phrase, but it's more true, and more relevant, than ever before.  Our students are facing significant challenges, even as they are dealing with their own grief, for given the rate of infection and death in LA, our students' loss of loved ones is almost a certainty.  So they look to us to provide some normalcy, some path forward, some way to move toward a better life for themselves, their families, and their community.

Therefore, we must all continue to be compassionate in our interactions, not only with students, but with each other.  Give your co-workers a call and see how they're doing.  Rather than maligning "Zooming" and "entering the Zoom Room," let's be thankful that we have the technology that allows us to meet a basic human need of interaction with each other.

Now, more than ever, is the time to re-commit ourselves to the values that we have identified as a community of educators, as we state proudly on our website:

West envisions each student and employee striving for excellence in and out of classes, laboratories, libraries, studios, playing fields and offices.

We hold ourselves and others to the highest standards in personal as well as intellectual responsibilities.  This informs relationships among students, staff, faculty and administration.

At West, everyone--students, staff, faculty, administration--is empowered by high expectations, respect and acknowledgement in all pursuits, from single lessons to completed degrees, from daily encounters to formal policy deliberations.

To be fully engaged-academically, locally and globally – is to embrace learning with passion, commitment and energy.

Thank you, everyone.