Orange Alert

The Courage to Fly

Two hawks, one in flight as it leaves the nest.

Posted on: March 17, 2021

Dear A&S students, faculty and staff,

Something I look forward to every spring is the return of the red-tailed hawks to campus. I’m happy to report that SU-Sue and Otto have recently been spotted in their aerie atop Lyman Hall, and that the College is again offering its live feed of the popular pair’s nest.

It’s fascinating and humbling to watch these fierce creatures share in the work of parenting: building a sturdy nest, trading turns at keeping their eggs warms, and of course, hunting. New viewers should be aware that life, death, and the evidence of both are often in stark HD display on the Nest Cam. Sometimes it’s in the grisly form of unlucky prey; other times in the forlorn shape of an egg that will never hatch.

Yet despite the dramas that occasionally play out in SU-Sue and Otto’s nest, there is something so comforting about their return—especially this spring. Perhaps it is simply that the constancy of nature assures me that all is as it should be; that for all its terrible power, even the coronavirus couldn’t hold back the lengthening of days; the emergence of bulbs; the return of our beloved raptors.

Unfortunately not everything is as it should be in our corner of the world. Like you, I was dismayed and appalled that racist messages were recently found in some of the buildings on campus, including the Hall of Languages. The cowardly perpetrators will likely soon be apprehended, but I would ask you all now to support with your words and your actions any member of our community that you imagine might be even glancingly affected by this ugly behavior. Because although the role of college is to prepare students for life beyond campus, it is also to create and protect an environment where each person is—and feels—safe and valued and thus can learn to their full potential.

I’ll close by saying that overall, there is much in recent days that heartens me. First, there is a new tone of hope in our nation’s capital, and here on campus so many are working with singular focus to replace unintentional exclusion and bias with systemic inclusion and equity. Second, the rate of vaccinations in the U.S continues to pick up speed, and New York State has finally authorized the vaccination for all staff working on campus. And third, we may soon be seeing eggs in our hawks’ nest. To me, those eggs will be a reminder of the importance of new beginnings as we work toward a common goal. As we enter the second half of this semester, let’s keep working together to create an environment that respects and challenges all—while still encouraging each one of us to fly.

Karin Ruhlandt