Florida university presidents issue statements on Middle East conflict

University presidents from around the Sunshine State this week addressed their respective communities about the attack in Israel.

Florida International University President Kenneth Jessell sent this message to the Panther community on Oct. 8:

“FIU stands with U.S. leaders, leaders from around the world and the people of Israel in condemning the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives, including children.

“Panthers and the broader South Florida community have strong ties to the region and our hearts go out to students, faculty and staff directly impacted by this situation.

“Please remember that FIU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are available to provide support to students seeking counseling during difficult times. Students may contact CAPS at 305-348-2277. Faculty and staff who seek support are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Employee Assistance at 305-348-2469.”

In an Oct. 9 email, University of Miami President Julio Frenk wrote:

“As ‘Canes gathered on our campus for Family Weekend this past Saturday, Hamas led a surprise and unprecedented attack on Israel, resulting in casualties to date of more than 800 Israelis killed, more than 130 kidnapped or held hostage, and more than 2,400 injured, mostly civilians. Israel declared war against Hamas that same day.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel, with all those impacted by the violence, and with all who seek peace. The images emerging from the war are harrowing. Our hearts break for Israelis and for the Jewish state, as well as for the innocent Palestinians, Druze, Bedouins, and others who live within its borders and the region. The most recent reports indicate more than 1,200 lives have been lost so far. We condemn any form of aggression targeting civilians, including the taking of hostages.”

University of Central Florida President Alexander Cartwright’s email on Oct. 10 wrote:

“UCF stands with those around the world and across our community in condemning hate, violence, and antisemitism in all forms, including the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. Our hearts ache for all those personally affected by these acts of terrorism, including those in our university community who have been directly impacted…

“We recognize that events happening around the world can deeply impact members of our community, and it is essential that we approach each other with empathy. As Knights, we must be respectful and considerate of one another, especially during challenging times. Let us stand united, supporting each other and promoting a campus culture of compassion, understanding, and peace.”

Florida State University President Richard McCullough wrote on Oct. 10:

“Many days, I have the joy of writing to you about the numerous successes of Florida State University’s faculty, staff, and students. Today, it is the solemn responsibility of the entire FSU community to use our collective voice to unequivocally condemn the violent and Antisemitic attacks on the citizens of Israel at the hands of terrorists. Florida State University stands staunchly in support of the Israeli people and all those affected by these terrible atrocities.

“Like many of you, I have been following the news of the deadly terrorist attacks with horror. These harrowing images of violence are deeply disturbing, and I know this is an especially frightening and difficult time for those in our Jewish community,” the email read. “I would like our Jewish faculty, staff, and students to know I stand with you and that your Florida State University family is here to support you.”

The University of Florida held a candlelight vigil in support of Israel on Monday during which President Ben Sasse gave a speech condemning Hamas’ attacks:

“Here’s another truth: human life matters. Human dignity matters. This is a truth that we here embrace, and a truth that the terrorists of Hamas reject. We are committed to that truth. We draw our strength and inspiration from that truth.

“This is a fallen world. When evil raises its head, as it has in recent days, it is up to men and women of conscience and courage to draw strength from truth and commit themselves to the work of building something better – to the work of pursuing justice and peace.”

All the universities provided mental health resources for students and faculty in the emails sent to their communities.

Managing Editor

Natalie is a senior double majoring in journalism and English. She interned at the Miami Herald and was an NBCU Academy fellow in Washington, D.C., where she reported on national issues that affect South Florida. Natalie has an interest in political reporting and gender issues.