Dear Hope community,

As we return to campus (both physically and virtually) from the summer recess, we join the community in welcoming students back, and look forward to the ways in which we will serve the mental health needs of our campus. We strive to deliver appropriate and effective services to all of our students, even though we are challenged in these unprecedented times.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recognizes the distress that exists in our world right now for a variety of reasons and specifically, would like to address the racial injustices that plague our nation.

Over the summer we witnessed the tragic and brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others. The unnecessary loss of Black and Brown lives is a vile and disgraceful reality in our nation’s history. Moreover, we are amidst a pandemic that has further magnified the multitude of inequities in healthcare, stability, safety, and resources that unfairly afflict our communities of color. We are outraged and disgusted by the inhumanity that still exists in our society today.

As mental health professionals, we personally see the painful burden that living in an oppressive, racist, and invalidating environment places on the physical and mental health of our students of color. In particular, our Black and African-American students may be feeling irate, terrified, devastated, dismissed, and exhausted, among other things, from the on-going exposure to racially-induced violence and trauma. These reactions make sense and they are all valid.

CAPS continues to be dedicated to providing culturally-competent and racially-responsive mental health services.

Although we may not fully understand the impact of your experiences, we share in your emotions and grieve with you.

CAPS staff are also mindful that currently, there are no counselors of color in our center. This has not always been the case nor will it always be the case. We believe bringing a counselor of color to work with us at Hope is crucial to serving the mental health needs of our students as we prioritize fostering understanding, belonging, and grace within the campus community.

We invite and encourage students to consider reaching out for support and/or consultation with any of our counselors. While we are available if you would like to meet with us, we also fully understand that we might not be what you are looking for. Please know that we will support you in finding access to what you do need, whatever that may be. CAPS has a list of resources on our webpage, including resources on how to connect with counselors outside of Hope College.

Finally, we recognize the significant pain this has placed on our Black and African-American students and colleagues in our Hope community. We believe that we are all interconnected in our mission at Hope and thus, when one of us hurts, the health of our whole community is at risk. Although we may not fully understand the impact of your experiences, we share in your emotions and grieve with you.

As members of our Hope community, we are committed to working internally within CAPS, and in connection with campus partners, to engage in and undertake these critical concerns.

Respectfully,

The Staff at CAPS – Jody, Kristen, Bill, KJ, Bonnie, and Aaron

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