Category: News

Title: A Message to the SSP Community

Date Published: June 1, 2020

The below message was sent to SSP students and faculty on June 1, 2020.

Dear SSP community,

As the head of a program focused on questions of national security, I would be remiss not to say something in reaction to the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others that have spurred protests across our country and the world. I want to echo both SFS Dean Joel Hellman’s remarks on the continued importance of solidarity and empathy, and Georgetown President Jack DeGioia’s message about the role of academia in confronting racism and inequality.

But I also want to send a word directly to you. We know that these events have touched many of our students here in Washington DC, the region, and elsewhere. Some of you are participating in the protests. Some of you are in neighborhoods impacted by rioting and looting, including in Georgetown, and may fear for your safety. Some of you may be concerned for your financial well-being as your work, or the work of family members, is further disrupted. Some of you may simply be emotionally and mentally exhausted by yet more difficult news in the midst of a global pandemic. And some of you may share my frustration with the appalling absence of national leadership that seeks to unify, rather than divide us.

I also recognize that this situation has an especially large impact on our students of color, particularly black students. The field of national security—both in academia and government—has been, and continues to be, predominantly white. We at SSP have tried to change this by seeking to recruit a more diverse faculty and student body. But we and the broader national security community have a long way to go. I promise to continue to meet and communicate with staff, colleagues, students, and alumni to determine the best path forward for supporting all of our students.

In times such as these, when human security for many seems tenuous, it is even more important to remember the Jesuit call to be women and men for others. This motto asks us not just to work for the public good in our careers, but to support one another as individuals. This is difficult given that we can’t speak in person, but that distance makes it all the more important that we be proactive in having these conversations.

If you are struggling in a course as a result of recent events, please reach out to your professor or your academic advisor for support. If you are struggling in any way, academically or otherwise, please feel empowered to reach out to our faculty and staff. This goes even for those of you who are joining us in Fall 2020 and are still being introduced to the SSP community. If you do not know whom to turn to, consider starting with our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Roberts; our Associate Director, Dr. Patterson; your academic advisor; or me. Finally, please consider reaching out to your colleagues and classmates, either to offer support or to seek it.

Keir Lieber
Director, Security Studies Program & Center for Security Studies
Georgetown University