The past several months have presented unprecedented challenges for our community, the nation, and the world. Events of the past week have reminded us that while we are all focused on keeping our loved ones safe and healthy, the underlying inequities within our society remain. In fact, we must acknowledge that societal inequalities are actually being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protests of the past few days, ignited by the killing of George Floyd, but truly fueled by the continued targeting, demonization, and abuse of black people across our country, highlight legitimate anger, which I share. The uprising we’re now seeing points to the significant work we still have to do as a society to confront and eliminate racism. I stand with those who are outraged at the senseless loss of black lives. I offer my support to those who deal daily with racism and other forms of discrimination. I state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter; that racism, discrimination, and bigotry violate our values as a university and that they will not be tolerated in our community. I ask each of you stand with me, with us, and for your friends, your peers, your students, your neighbors as we seek a path forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrased Massachusetts-born abolitionist minister Theodore Parker when he said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That arc feels much too long these days. And we must acknowledge that it won’t bend on its own. Each of us, especially those of us who are privileged, must consider how we can contribute to bending the arc toward justice, and do our part to make the universe we want to see.
There is no perfect answer, no perfect action we can take, because these societal problems run deep and have been created and perpetuated over generations. Nonetheless, I truly believe that our community can and must do more to live our values and advance the causes of justice as we look toward the coming year. I pledge to explore that with you further as we start to come back together in the weeks and months ahead. I welcome your ideas for specific steps that WPI can take as we continue to seek to create a truly equitable community where all are treated with respect, and all can thrive. I know we can make a difference together.
This has been and remains a trying and turbulent time. Both the toll of the virus and the upheaval in the world are real. Dealing with the scale of what we are witnessing is especially challenging because we are not physically together. However, we can still lift one another up through our community. Our resources are here to provide support, including the Student Development & Counseling Center, Office of Multicultural Affairs , the Employee Assistance Program, or simply the comfort of colleagues and friends over Zoom.
Be safe and well. Standing together we will bend the arc of the universe toward justice.