Reflecting on Ferguson, New York, and the Grand Jury Decisions

Posted December 5th, 2014 at 3:26 pm.

The following email was sent by President Cassidy on Dec. 5.

Dear Campus Community,

Like many of you, I am deeply troubled by the events of the past two weeks in Ferguson and in New York City.  I know that those events, and others like them, are profoundly affecting students, faculty, and staff at the College.  The grand jury decisions not to pursue any charges in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and cases involving others whose names have not made the news, challenge us to confront the inequities that are embedded in our judicial and other systems.

It is important that we respond to these events as a community while, at the same time, recognizing that members of our community will find different kinds of responses meaningful.  Students have organized a “black out” (dressing all in black) as an expression of solidarity. Two students in collaboration with the Provost’s office have asked faculty to observe a period of 4.5 minutes of silence in their Friday classes (to signify the 4.5 hours that Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after his fatal shooting) as an affirmation that “Black Lives Do Matter.”   Some faculty and students have participated in peaceful protests, or are planning to do so in the coming days.  The Pensby Center and the Dean’s Office have set aside a space for reflection this afternoon at 4:30 in the Dorothy Vernon Room, and are working to provide other spaces for student gathering and support.

I would like to offer an impromptu office hour from 12-1:30 p.m. today (President’s Office, Taylor Second Floor).  Please come by to share your thoughts or to engage with others who have been wrestling with these events.  It is important that we are here for each other.

While I am sure that the level of exhaustion and pain from these events is great, I hope we will remain optimistic that we can make a difference.  We are firmly committed to addressing issues of racism on our own campus.  And I hope that we will work together to stand up against racism in our broader society by peaceful action and by using our knowledge and skills to help create more just social structures.

My thoughts are with all of you during this difficult time.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you would find it helpful.



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