Imagine hundreds of police surrounding the University’s campus. Clad in riot gear and bearing rifles, imagine them storming dorm halls and bombarding crowds with metal pellets while arresting hundreds of students. Imagine plumes of tear gas funneling through our academic buildings and pumping into the eyes and lungs of the teenagers and barely-of-age-adults fleeing the violence.
Imagine a 22-year-old girl dead because of the police. Dead because she did not dress herself according to the standards of the regime. Dead because she engaged in the daring act of doing what she wanted while harming nobody.
Slow down your imagination for a moment. Transport yourself from Rochester to Iran, where this is reality.
Picture thousands of women and girls following in her footsteps and continuing on their own, honoring her memory by dressing as they wish. Picture thousands of women and girls at the front lines of protests, facing violent repression from a militaristic, theocratic regime. Picture thousands of university-age men and boys standing with them. Picture over 200 innocent people laying dead in the streets at the hands of a tyrant and his lackeys.
Now look at our University — fully aware of the violence being waged indiscriminately against Iranian university students, teenagers, and adults alike protesting for some of the most basic freedoms conceivable. Stare into the black void formed by our administration’s deafening silence.
Their words will not fix anything, but that’s the point. It would take no effort for the administration to cut through their pathological obsession with poking at and primping every little detail of their public relations. It is much easier to speak from your heart when your heart sides with justice.
Go back to Iran for a moment. Picture Mahsa Amini, martyred for her belief in freedom. Picture a people, staring down rifle barrels, fighting to liberate themselves in her name. Look them in the eyes and tell them they’re not worth an email.