President Munson on the death of Daniel Prude

Watching the devastating police-involved murders in communities of color across the nation, seeing the killing of Daniel Prude in our own community, and learning of it so many months after the fact, is horrifying.

The circumstances surrounding Daniel Prude’s death are beyond troubling. It has been ruled a homicide and we must speak out against yet another death of a Black citizen. Our community leadership – and the leadership of this university – have spoken emphatically about the need to end systemic racism and social inequality which so often play a role in these situations. But, how often must we speak out? The death of Daniel Prude moves us to reaffirm that talk must turn to action, to find ways to even begin to repair 400 years of racism and oppression.

In remarks at opening ceremonies for the new semester, Keith Jenkins, RIT’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, said recent events have “forced this nation, this state, this city, this university, us—individually and collectively, to stop and ask ourselves, 'Have we been as attentive, just, fair, committed to anti-racism, social justice as we could be? Have we done our best? Have we held each other accountable?' The feedback—we can do more. We must do more.”

Today, I call on each of us to be accountable and to expect accountability from those with the power to truly bring change. It’s not enough to say we support Black Lives Matter, or even to display the banner. Our actions speak louder than any words we can utter, any statements we can put forth. That is why the RIT administration is seeking ideas and feedback from the RIT community, and is welcoming shared leadership from all governance groups and the RIT Board of Trustees, in determining the best ways to promote anti-racism and social justice. Over the summer, we compiled more than 100 ideas for changes and new initiatives that are actively being discussed, organized, and prioritized. We expect to receive many more. After further vetting by the RIT community, implementation of selected programs and projects will be announced in the coming weeks and months. We will not solve the problems of racism and social injustice by ourselves, but we are committed to doing our part and to joining with others to amplify our actions.

The horrendous killing of Daniel Prude has added to an already challenging national environment, which may be causing members of the RIT community to experience increased anxiety, stress, and depression. Please remember you are not alone. Students may reach out to your Resident Advisor or get in touch with Counseling and Psychological Services or Spirituality & Religious Life. Faculty and staff can use the Employee Assistance Program. And the Division of Diversity and Inclusion offers a wide array of programs and educational opportunities.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Daniel Prude. Say his name.

David Munson
President, RIT

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