To the Lafayette Community:

I join with many citizens across the nation and observers from around the world in feeling tremendous relief at a Minnesota jury’s decision to convict former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Racism is a danger to our campuses and our communities, but its existence is most pernicious when it appears in our nation’s criminal justice system. I hope that this verdict, including testimony for the prosecution delivered by leaders in law enforcement, is a first step toward healing and mobilizes reforms that penalize and eradicate police violence directed at Black citizens.

The events of last summer that resulted in the brutal and senseless loss of George Floyd’s life remain difficult and emotionally charged for everyone. I encourage students, faculty, and staff to reach out to one another with understanding, encouragement, and support. You might also join today’s planned conversation on Race and the Criminal Justice System, being held at 1 p.m. as part of the biweekly public meeting of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. The conversation will be facilitated by our colleague in Africana studies, Professor Viet Trinh.

Also, please note that our Counseling  Center is available to help students who are processing the impact of these events. The Counseling Center’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion includes the belief that “awareness of how our individual identities intersect is important to understanding ourselves, one another, and our experiences in the world.” 

I hope that the programs and discussions offered by the DEI Council, the Office of Intercultural Development, and other departments and programs can also provide opportunities for the community to share thoughts about how George Floyd’s tragic killing and its aftermath are shaping the national understanding of the ways in which racism continues to affect our legal system and our nation.

President Alison Byerly

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