Message from President La Jerne Terry Cornish: Supporting Our Campus Community During Times of Tragedy

By News, October 10, 2023

Dear Ithaca College Community, 

I am horrified by the terrorist attacks that began in Israel on Saturday and by the ensuing ongoing violence. As always, my thoughts are with the members of our campus community, along with our families, friends, and colleagues, many of whom are directly affected. Like all people, we deserve to live in a world without violence, especially against civilians, including innocent children. 

Many of our students are trying to manage their lives while suffering from the weight of the violence’s impact, fielding phone calls from family members who are being called up to serve, seeking information about loved ones who are missing, and following ongoing reports of violence that are affecting members of their communities. Whether the common thread is their home, their homeland, their faith, or even just the common bonds of humanity, this is a monumental task, and I encourage all who find themselves struggling to please seek help and to focus on their care. 

I am grateful for the staff and faculty who gathered to support our Jewish students Monday night in Muller Chapel, including those from the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL), Hillel, Chabad, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). It was heart-wrenching to hear our students, staff, and other members of our extended Jewish community express their grief, anger, pain, and fear. It is important to note that we are actively seeking ways to support both Jewish as well as Palestinian and Gazan community members during these difficult times. 

At Ithaca College, we value the open exchange of ideas and the promotion of a peace in which human rights are non-negotiable. As our “Vision, Mission, Values” webpage states, "Mutual care, respect, and accountability are expected in all facets of institutional life. Ithaca College values every community member's dignity and seeks to create a social environment where everyone can flourish and be their authentic self. As members of a thriving community, we demonstrate practices that foster a sense of belonging, shared responsibility, collaboration, innovation, and achievement.” 

I hope that those looking for assistance and comfort will find two important campus resources to be helpful: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL). They can direct students to other resources as well. CAPS is a vital mental health service, and our campus communities of faith model our values every day by both working together and focusing their care and compassion on our commonalities and not our differences.  

For those who are less directly affected by this violence, I ask that you offer your compassion, patience, and assistance to those who are. We are a community of care, and as such, our shared humanity should be our guiding star. 


La Jerne Terry Cornish