We are living during a time of profound hurt, anger, frustration and, for many, a time of deep disappointment and despair regarding the recent high-profile violent events targeting Black Americans – the most recent being the inescapable images of George Floyd, dying while a police officer knelt on his neck.
The shocking events in Minnesota, as well as too many other similar killings in communities including Ahmaud Arbery, killed while jogging, and Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police raiding her home, bring much pain, anger and trauma to many members of our community, and we cannot let them go unnoticed or unacknowledged. They are incomprehensible. Unjust. Inhumane.
First and foremost, as leaders of this university, it is important that we speak out against these atrocities. To our Black students, faculty and staff, know that we both stand with you. The university stands with you.
It is important, as Spartans, that we collectively understand and acknowledge the impact of racism and that the Black community is under attack in many ways right now. In addition to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others who are targeted because of their skin color, we have a global health pandemic that is powerfully and incontrovertibly revealing the inequities in our society.
All of this is taking a heavy emotional toll on many of our friends, families and fellow Spartans. These events remind us that we have a responsibility to engage in the work necessary to understand we live in a diverse world and a diverse campus community, and by virtue of this we also have a responsibility to each other to respond to these injustices – acknowledge them, empathize with one another and accept each other.
We are committed to building an inclusive environment here at MSU, one that recognizes and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. However, this commitment must be manifested in ways that extend well beyond words. We hope you will do what you can as students, faculty and staff at MSU to fight racism, disrupt injustice and actively support each other. The next several months will test our resolve, our community and our nation.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. Teresa A. Sullivan
President Interim Provost