Dear Campus Community,
I am writing today in my role as Acting Chief Diversity Officer, and this requires a different voice. President Casey and I agreed that this moment for our nation required a message to the campus, but this message comes from me. Today I am the person charged to speak to harms that can go unrecognized, to identify threats to the wellbeing of our community that require understanding and care.
After 14 days of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial, closing arguments will take place on Monday. We have watched emotional testimony from witnesses, including one as young as 10 years old, dissect the events of May 25, 2020. In the midst of the trial, we watched footage of Daunte Wright killed during a traffic stop, Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario pepper sprayed at a traffic stop while in uniform, and Antone Austin arrested while putting out his trash.
I know many, especially our community members from marginalized communities, are anxious, hurting, and exhausted. It can be difficult to have confidence in a justice system that does not always appear to be impartial and objective. This pressure is compounded when we are trying to continue to manage daily responsibilities and support each other. The emotional toll may be difficult for some to see, but the data reinforce that the inequality is real. A recent study out of Harvard shows that Black people are more than three times as likely as white people to be killed during a police encounter.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, my colleagues and I remain committed to the safety and well-being of our community. Spaces continue to be available for faculty, staff, and students to decompress, discuss, and strategize. This Sunday evening, 6–7 p.m., the ALANA Cultural Center wants to check in with the BIPOC community on campus to talk about whatever is on their mind. Please register via this form. Details of other programming being planned will be shared as they become available.
This verdict is coming at the end of a long academic year, burdened by the pandemic, when we are preparing for exams. Many of us have learned how to transform these burdens into the energy needed to continue moving forward; I celebrate our perseverance. Through the many challenges, it is our responsibility as an institution to create global citizens that can debate and challenge current events and issues. Colgate must continue to make progress toward the goal of being an anti-racist campus that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I ask that we offer each other grace as we navigate the coming days. Please care for yourself and each other.
Laura H. Jack
Acting Chief Diversity Officer
Vice President for Communications
Dear Campus Community,