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Responding to Social Injustice

June 1, 2020

Dear Hornet Nation,

A walk in the park, a jog through the neighborhood, a trip to the store — these are just a few of the everyday events that many of us take for granted. But for some members of Hornet Nation, even these everyday activities are frightening.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen both the best and the worst of humanity on display. The best in the form of healthcare workers batting to save the lives of those in their care. The worst in the form of racism and death of those engaged in everyday activities.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police detained Mr. George Floyd, resulting in his death. Based on video evidence, Mr. Floyd was pulled from his car and handcuffed. During the arrest, Mr. Floyd was pinned by multiple officers, with one kneeling on his neck with his full body weight for nearly nine minutes.

During this time, Mr. Floyd pleaded for air at least sixteen times. Official records indicate that after approximately six minutes, officers realized that Mr. Floyd had lost consciousness and had no pulse. The officer continued pressing his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, after he had no pulse, for nearly three additional minutes. A fourth officer stood nearby to secure the area and prevent citizen intervention. During this time many distraught onlookers recorded the incident.

Why does this matter to each of us and to ESU?

Nationally, we continue to witness troubling instances of social injustice, racism, mistreatment and in some cases murder of African Americans. Avoidance and complacency allow practices to continue that discriminate against and dehumanize others.

Emporia State University seeks to change lives for the common good. We must consciously humanize victims of such horrible actions, closely examine our own beliefs, and challenge ourselves to explore the condition of our society. Most importantly, each of us should ask how we can help to create a more equitable system for all.

You may know a “George Floyd.” Mr. Floyd was an African American man, loved by many including his children, very involved in his local church, and an active member of the broader Minneapolis community.

ESU has made becoming a model for diversity, equity and inclusion an important part of our Strategic Plan. Our community continues to take intentional steps toward this goal and embraces an understanding that we must be part of the change so needed.

What more can each of us do?

If you are like us, you are probably asking yourself “What can I do?” Here are a few thoughts, but each of you should take some time to reflect on other things you can do to help heal our country:

  • Acknowledge the need to address systemic patterns of prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism resulting in unfair treatment in your sphere of influence.
  • Engage in meaningful conversations regarding unconscious (or conscious) discrimination; and
  • Join the conversation. Dr. Aswad Allen, Chief Diversity Officer, will be hosting a call Friday, June 5 (call details forthcoming).

If you need help resulting from the impact of recent events, students please contact Counseling Services at 620-341-5222; employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program.

Working Together,

Allison D. Garrett, President

Dr. Aswad Allen, Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Jim Williams, Vice President for Student Affairs

Brayden Soper, President,Associated Student Government

Amaya Oshel, Vice President, Associated Student Government