We believe in honoring each other – for our differences and for our similarities. We are stronger as a University and as a community because we value inclusion. We mourn today with our Black students, alumni, employees, faculty, families, friends, and neighbors. We condemn the blatant, systemic disregard for human life at the hands of racism and corruption.
We do not tolerate racism. As deep our sadness is for the lives lost or harmed and unnecessary hardships placed upon America’s Black sons and daughters, so, too, is our motivation to speak out and to advocate for change.
Today, a muddled foundation of compassion and disgust gives rise to our voice – against divisiveness, against social injustice, and against racism in every way, shape, and form. We affirm our commitment to inclusion; we welcome those who may look, think, or believe differently than others so long as they, too, show respect for humanity. Likewise, we condemn those who defy diversity or advocate exclusion driven by race, color, gender identity, creed, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, or personal characteristics.
We believe in and fully support freedom for one and all. We deplore marginalization, abuse, and oppression that prevents the equitable pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
We implore the people of this Nation and abroad to respect humankind, to discover the joy in loving and honoring our differences, and to raise voices in a united hymn of change. Let our anger and frustration fuel the proverbial fire of reform rather than become lost in violence and destruction.
We implore civic leaders, business leaders, and policymakers to urgently review policies related to inclusion, discrimination, discipline, use of force, transparency, and cultural competence. We call on our State and Federal governments to create or modify legislation that encourages or fails to provide consequences for systemic racism and other forms of abuse that threaten the rights and opportunities of any American.
We challenge ecclesiastical and community leaders, educators, and parents/guardians to model anti-racism behaviors within their areas of influence to break the cycle for future generations – to teach our children about civility, kindness, and the worth and contributions of all people and, most importantly, to teach them to treat others as they desire to be treated and to put others before self.
We affirm our faith in humankind and in the power of a united people. We will forever hold in our thoughts and hearts the desperation and neglect in the words “I can’t breathe” and hope never to hear those words expressed in this way again.
Black Lives Matter. United We Stand.
Dr. Richard P. Nielsen