I am saddened and angered by the events related to racism, social inequalities and a blatant lack of respect that have occurred over the past weeks, months and years. While these issues are dominating the current headlines, I acknowledge that these underlying themes have been prevalent in our society for centuries.
I firmly believe that we cannot create change if we refuse to acknowledge the problem. We must want to do better. We have to do better.
The University of Tennessee at Martin condemns racism, threats or violence of any sort. We strive to be a place where our community members can study, gather, learn and play without fear or threat of violence and oppression. We will ensure a campus that is open, accessible and welcoming to all.
In terms of safety, our community is diligently working on a reentry plan for the fall during the coronavirus. We are equally vigilant in our work to make certain that the seeds of racism and injustice continue to be addressed as well. This afternoon, the Office of Multicultural Affairs is hosting a virtual forum entitled “A Space to Dissect and Reflect on a Nation Crying Out.” This is a first of many upcoming conversations in which we will talk, share and propose solutions.
I also realize that in a time when we are physically separated, it’s easy to feel vulnerable and alone. Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Please reach out to friends, neighbors and colleagues to check on them. Now, more than ever, we need to feel loved and experience a sense of belonging.
We have an opportunity to become a model for compassion and inclusion. We can be the light for West Tennessee, the region and beyond. I want that for this University community.
Finally, remember that love and respect are contact activities. It’s impossible to do either alone.