A Message of Commitment and Demand for Change
Today, we write to you on behalf of the entire senior leadership of Pacific University with a message of commitment and a demand for change.
As we are dealing with the consequences of months of social and economic isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on people of color in our community, now we are also witnessing continued, shameful acts of violence against people of color. From the hunting down of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery while he jogged on a public street to the death of Mr. George Floyd caused by a horrifying disregard of human life by a Minneapolis police officer to the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own home by police, we are witnessing a seemingly unending and callous assault on the lives of Black men and women. This is not acceptable.
The current tragedy of Mr. Floyd has hit our Pacific community hard, and it is sincerely difficult to send an appropriate message. For many it is directly personal. Our responses range from anger to trauma, from sadness to fear, but for all of us it is very painful. That said, we have a duty at Pacific University to be a voice of change, however imperfect, and to speak up when needed and bear witness to cruel injustice. Please join us in using our voices, our strength and our compassion to say, “No more.”
We can be better. Pacific University joins with other leaders of academic institutions in our region to stand against the wanton disregard for Black lives and the centuries of institutionalized racism that have led to these deaths. The mission of Pacific University includes the pursuit of justice, and this makes it the imperative of every member of our community to actively pursue the peaceful dismantling of systemic racism. It is not enough to simply hope for change.
We must all commit to doing our part. We have seen the devastation, anger and fear in the eyes of our faculty, staff and students of color.
For our community of people of color, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is here to provide support, referrals and university resources. We encourage students to reach out to the Student Counseling Center if they are interested in having a counselor support them through processing the range of emotions, trauma, and grief that may be arising during this time. The SCC also has a new weekly web-series, Rising from the Margins, which is focused on holding space to support students, staff, and faculty in drawing on the wisdom of their experiences of living in the margins.
For all members of our community, we challenge you to commit to learning more about the impacts of racial inequality and the actions that can be taken to dismantle racism. It is time we each make a personal commitment to making Pacific University and our communities better by creating space for all to learn equitably and live peacefully.
We recommend starting with the following books and links to additional information:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race by Robin DiAngelo
- So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- What is White Privilege, Really? By Cory Collins
- …But, I’m Not Racist (Tools for Well-Meaning Whites) by Kathy Obear
- Further reading, a resource from the Chicago Public Library
Our country and our communities are in pain. I invite each of you to join me in healing through virtual vigil gatherings, education and acting boldly against racism. For those who would like to join in remembrance and reflection to pay our respects to Mr. Floyd, his family and community, there will be a virtual event on Zoom Thursday, June 4 from 6-7 p.m.
Lesley M. Hallick
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Vice Provost and Executive Dean, College of Health Professions
Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
Dean, College of Business
Dean, College of Education
Dean, College of Optometry
President’s Office, Chief of Staff
Rick Kimbrough II
Incoming Vice President, University Advancement
Vice President, Finance & Administration
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
Interim Vice President, University Advancement
Director, Legal Affairs & Human Resources
Associate Dean, College of Business