The Minneapolis Verdict: Our Plan for Change
Dear RIT community:
As an institution of higher learning and a community of concerned citizens, it is our duty to reflect on and respond to issues that shape our society. As you are likely aware by now, a jury in Minneapolis today has found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May. Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
We must now pause and reflect on what has transpired. What does this mean for our nation? The future of our justice system? And what does this signify for us, our RIT family?
The verdict will not remove the hurt and pain many are feeling. There is much yet to be done—requiring meaningful reform and positive change.
Racial disparities cannot be ignored; we must continue to address racism in all of its forms. It is a difficult but necessary conversation the entire nation must have if we are to improve society and address racism head-on. We must think about and act upon individual racism, interpersonal racism, institutional racism, and structural racism.
At RIT, we endeavor to provide the resources, people, and programs needed to create the inclusive environment we all desire and to promote the success of all of our students. For example, two women-of-color staff in our Counseling and Psychological Services have taken the lead to offer an opportunity to help process the verdict for our ALANA/BIPOC students and staff. The program will be held virtually tomorrow (April 21), from noon to 1 p.m. Students and staff can sign up online. We recognize that the verdict has a unique impact on this portion of our community.
To continue our institutional work to address racial inequity on our campus, the university community has come together to work on the “RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity.” Our plan will address leadership, culture, and communication issues, as well as the recruitment and advancement of more BIPOC students, faculty, and staff. It will include action items for which we will be accountable – something that many communities directly experiencing racism are calling for.
Our work has begun.
George Floyd’s slaying is a seminal moment for our nation. We must not repeat our past. Let us commit to building a more just and equitable society for all.
David Munson, President
Keith Jenkins, Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion