Messages to the Community

University Statement in Anticipation of the Derek Chauvin Verdict

A message from Dr. Dwight A. McBride, President and University Professor

As the country braces for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, I want to acknowledge the impact that verdict will have on all of us. I want to recognize the broader toll and trauma of white supremacy and imbalances of power and privilege that have been made abundantly clear by the death of George Floyd. And I want to outline the ways we will work as a university to both support one another and remain steadfast in our work to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice.

The progress of emancipation from racial oppression, bias, and violence relies on the collective efforts and spirit of many working together. As a progressive higher education institution, we can catalyze change through teaching, learning, scholarship, and creative practice. We can also fulfill our crucial role by serving as a democratic commons and convener for critical public dialogues and debates.

The importance of this work has been amplified in so many conversations across the university. People are committed, but I know that many of us are also hurting, outraged, and just downright exhausted. Once again, I turn to the words of Ella Baker who enjoined that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” So first let’s take a collective breath so that we can once again return together to the work of equity and freedom. It is important that we find ways to comfort one another, renew our energy, and lift our heavy hearts so that the good work we are doing can continue. I want to share information about how we are preparing to process the Chauvin trial verdict as an academic community.

  • Faculty members are encouraged to create space in their classes for discussion related to the Chauvin trial and the societally important issues it has surfaced.
  • The Senates; the Office of Equity, Inclusion of Social Justice; and partners in the Colleges will host gatherings to process reactions.
  • We are anticipating public demonstrations in New York City and considering ways we can support safe and peaceful participation in those efforts.
  • Students who need support can email Employees can seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.

The magnitude of the Chauvin decision should not be underestimated. But neither should we underestimate the power of our connected voices and efforts. Ultimately, our work together lifts us all and will continue beyond us.

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