Our community is grieving the loss of Walter Wallace Jr. His death is a tragedy on so many levels, and a stark reminder of the life and death struggles faced by so many Black Philadelphians. This has been a year where we have witnessed the repeated violent deaths of people of color, and struggled with the emotions and rage that stirred. But Walter Wallace’s death is particularly hard for all of us at Penn, because it occurred in our West Philadelphia community. He was our neighbor. And his loss is felt profoundly.
It is at times like this that we need to be particularly mindful of taking care of each other, and remembering our common bond as a community here in West Philadelphia. We know that this is a particularly fraught time for students, faculty and staff of color. Words alone will not soothe their anguish, but we want them to know of our unequivocal support in this difficult hour.
We are also mindful of the needs of our West Philadelphia neighbors. Recently we announced Penn Medicine’s commitment to help transform Mercy Catholic Medical Center to ensure the continuity of care for the West Philadelphia community. It is an initiative that will, among many other things, provide important behavioral health services for the neighborhood.
We also want to remind the campus community of the mental health and support services available here at Penn. There are many places to turn for help in times of stress and grief. In addition to those formal channels, we urge you to look out for each other. There has never been a more important time to be personally supportive of friends, colleagues and classmates.
These are difficult times, where there are no easy solutions. Our thoughts are with the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and our hope is that no other families suffer as they have this week.
Resources and Support
If you have any doubt about where to turn, Penn’s HELP Line is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, at 215-898-HELP.
Student Health Service: 215-746-3535
Student Intervention Services 215-898-6081
Office of the Chaplain: 215-898-8456
Weingarten Learning Resources Center: 215-573-9235
Special Services (within Division of Public Safety): 215-898-6600
Employee Assistance Program: 866-799-2329