Designs. Sequences. Patterns. Each day you all as engineers and technologist go through the process of creating formulas and algorithms to develop the projects that help enhance our world. From the systems engineer who looks to create efficiencies; to the statistician identifying trends in data sets; to the cyber security professional reviewing past attacks to create more secure systems - each and everyone of you connects to a history to build better, safer, more useful tools for our lives.
You do this work in labs, and controlled environments, classrooms, and other places that you are able to be vulnerable and ask questions, seek additional information, or simply take the time to be present in your work and interests. These safe spaces offer you an important and comfortable community - and we all within the College of Engineering and Computing work to make sure that that feeling of community is felt most authentically.
But what happens when patterns emerge that cause harm? What do we do when we see a trend or continuous error in sequence? What happens when we ignore those problems and challenges? How might taking your safe space away create an inability to fully develop into who you are meant to be?
Recent events showcase a societal pattern and trend of bias, bigotry, and harmful hate. Shootings at places of worship like churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples; businesses that cater to certain communities like nail salons and grocery stores; to the places where we all think we can just live freely - such as schools and nightclubs. Our safe spaces are being violently taken from us.
This most recent shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs is part of a bigger sequence of harmful hate that is so pervasively impacting our society. What are the inputs? What is the formula that is causing this? How might we change the algorithms of social injustice to create a more liberative world?
Much like engineering and computing, social justice asks us to look at these algorithms and formulas of human behavior and think about what they mean, and how they impact our abilities to build inclusive and safe communities. Ignoring patterns because they are uncomfortable, or because we have become desensitized, or even failing to connect the patterns have the potential to create more bias, bigotry, and in some cases hate that causes significant harm.
A mechanical engineer ignoring a problem in formula can jeopardize the structural integrity of a bridge. A computer scientist who continues to input code wrong opens the system up to numerous other vulnerabilities. Failing to notice the repetition of harmful hate in our history and present will continue to provide problems that rob us of our safe spaces, cause fear and uncertainty, and take away precious lives. We can do better. We must do better.
To the LGBTQ+ Community, know that my heart aches with you. From the systemic rolling back of rights, to the outright violence in history and as of late, it is tough to show up whole when the world seems to tell you that you are less than such. As someone who shares affinity with this community and as a human being - I grieve with you. And I vow to continue to do my part to create that more inclusive world. As we heal, let us speak the names of those lost: Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. On the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed in honor of the lives of trans people lost to anti-trans violence and hatred - this all feels more acute. But we persevere. Through our pain, to our healing, we endure on. We will laugh again, and dance again, and feel safe again. And in that joy, we will show our resistance.
There are many support services being offered by the university. These can be accessed through the Office of Diversity, Outreach, and Inclusive Learning within the College of Engineering and Computing here at George Mason University. Please reach out at [log in to unmask] for more information.
In the meantime, take care of yourselves. Yesterday as me and my team handed out variations of pie favorites - we asked you all to tell us what you were thankful for. You all should know that we are thankful for you. Each of you brings a unique and important voice, life, and energy to our College. You matter - and we see you.
In solidarity. In justice. In love and light.
Christopher Carr, Ed.D.