Dear Campus Community:
The tragic passing of George Floyd, who died while in police custody this past Monday, is a devastating and heart-wrenching loss to the City of Minneapolis, the African-American community, and everyone who believes in equality and the sanctity of human life. This incident, following the senseless deaths of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, is further proof that implicit bias and systemic racism continue to plague our country and, as they did on May 25, can result in deadly consequences.
The unfolding of these most recent events has caused me to further reflect and believe even more strongly in building an inclusive environment that recognizes, honors, and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. We must use this moment to come together so that no person will live in fear because of the color of their skin, who they love, their gender identity and expression, or who they pray to.
I remain committed to the principle of social justice and reaffirm that we will do all that we can, as a campus community, to identify and address acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other negative influences that may touch us. As a learning community, we must commit ourselves to education, compassion, and understanding as we strive to put an end to the inherent biases to which we are socialized and that are oftentimes borne out of fear, misunderstanding, and ignorance.
I encourage all employees in need of support during this difficult time to contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 844-393-4983 or www.guidanceresources.com (employer ID: UMASS). Students in need of support are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at (508) 998-8648 or the Office of Student Affairs at (508) 910-6402.
Robert E. Johnson PhD