Message to the Campus Community (June 2, 2020)
To the Bowdoin campus community,
So much has happened in this country since I wrote last Friday about the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Many of you have shared with me your thoughts on that message and on the state of our nation. I have been reflecting on the events of the last several days, with gratitude for your insights.
Bowdoin’s Black students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and neighbors are suffering great pain. Together with everyone in the Bowdoin community, know that I stand with you and that Black lives matter.
Outrage, despair, and pain have boiled over in every corner of our country at what has taken place in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd’s murder is a stark reminder that race determines profoundly unjust outcomes not only in our systems of policing and incarceration, but in every part of our society. As another immediate and real example, the global pandemic we face has put health, jobs, and financial security at serious risk. And, again, race drives substantially different outcomes.
What do we do at this moment about a long-standing system with such immense problems? For some, it is a time to protest—to engage a critical and protected form of expression. For others, it is a time to learn—to engage in deep self-reflection about the systemic racism that divides, harms, and kills, and to determine what we must do to dismantle it. And, for those who can, it is a time to contribute financially to organizations that are driving necessary change. While our approaches may at times overlap and other times differ, I urge everyone in this community to get involved.
I have asked Michael Reed, our senior vice president for inclusion and diversity, and our communications and public affairs staff to develop a page on our website to serve as a reference repository for books, articles, blogs, podcasts, performances, and other means of obtaining insight and knowledge about structural racism and its effects in the US. This website will be “crowdsourced” from the campus community, and I invite everyone to both contribute to and to make the commitment to engage with these materials. We will circulate the means to do so as soon as the website is ready.
In addition, Michael Reed is working with others on campus to coordinate programming to allow opportunities for discussion, education, and solidarity. Some conversations are well underway—our Athletes of Color Coalition met on Sunday, and last night, an ongoing Black men’s group of students, faculty, and staff came together to support one another. You will hear more from Michael and others soon. If you have ideas, please email Michael.
Counseling services staff are available to support students in this incredibly stressful and painful time. Please call for an appointment at (207) 725-3145, or feel free to email Shelley Roseboro, Roland Mendiola, Kacey Lane, or Bernie Hershberger to set up a phone or videoconference call. For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program provides avenues for assistance.
For those on campus and in the local community, a vigil in the memory of George Floyd, and for others who have been the victims of police brutality, is being organized by Eduardo Pazos, our director of the Rachel Lord Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and by Michael Reed. It will be held tomorrow evening, Wednesday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. on the steps of the Walker Art Building. Participants are asked to uphold CDC guidelines, to wear facial coverings, and to stay at least six feet apart during this time of reflection and solidarity.
Please continue to share your thoughts with me and stay safe.