Dear Members of the PBG Community,

We write to you with our hearts broken.

These past few weeks and months have been unbelievably difficult. On top of a global pandemic which has disrupted and marred many of our lives, on top of pervasive financial distress and insecurities about the future, we now grieve the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless others who have been killed in our country for being Black. These most recent killings represent only the most recent in a long history of police surveillance, control, and brutality towards Black Americans. As our University Chaplain, Chaz Howard, wrote, “It’s hard to find the words time and time and time again.” Beyond the killings, there are no words to encapsulate the enormity of the toll systemic racism constantly places on Black communities and their members.

We wanted to reach out because we know that many of us may be experiencing pain, sorrow, anger, fear, helplessness, and/or numbness these days. This may be especially true for the Black members of our community and other members who are people of color. Just as each person’s circumstances differ, so too each person’s reactions and needs may differ right now.

We are here for you. However we can help, we are here for you. Reach out to us, or to any of the Penn’s resources. Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available by phone, video, or in-person, and is free and confidential for all graduate students. They can be reached 24/7 at 215-898-7021; dial 1 to speak to a clinician and dial 2 to schedule an appointment. It is an incredible act of self-awareness and bravery to ask for help when you need it.

PBG adds tremendous value to our clients, to Penn, and, we hope, to all of its members. Each member of PBG continuously develops the skills, cultivates the work ethic, and forms the relationships needed to be a leader. In addition to taking care of yourselves, we encourage you to take an active role in creating positive change, for those around you and for society at large.

You all know how to research – research systemic racism. You all know how to work on teams – connect with others in your life who may need support or even a simple check-in. You all know how to find and contact thought leaders in the field – find and contact those in positions of power to encourage them to make systemic change. You all know how to interview – listen, actively and compassionately, to the experiences of marginalized people. You all know how to present thoughtfully and persuasively – amplify the voices and needs of those who are marginalized and unheard.

We are thinking about you all the time and we are working around the clock on this coming year’s PBG community and programing. Please don’t be a stranger, we love hearing from you. And wherever you might be, in whatever circumstance, continue to be the leaders we know you are.

Dania Malik, Chao Lin, and Ben Bolnick
PBG Co-Presidents