April 20, 2021
On April 19, attorneys presented their closing statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who has been charged with three crimes for the death of George Floyd last May. At the time of writing this note, we still await the final verdicts, yet feel compelled to offer our Gonzaga community a message of solidarity regardless of the outcome.
We all anticipated that the trial proceedings would prove to be emotionally exhausting for many observers; however, the deeply disturbing evidence and testimony have resulted in a heavier psychological toll on our Black students, faculty, staff, friends, and neighbors. We understand that some of you may be feeling as traumatized in the retelling of this terrible episode as when it first happened.
Nationally, people have shared personal experiences of the harm of individual and systemic racism and frustrations surrounding police reform and imbalances of power. Members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community are worried about their safety and that of their loved ones, while also grieving for others who have been harmed in racially motivated acts of violence. Students are demanding sustainable change. We share the belief that action is overdue.
In this moment, we need to, and do say to our Black students, faculty, staff, families, and alumni: We see you; we hear you; we stand in solidarity with you.
As a Catholic, Jesuit, humanistic university, our mission calls us to demonstrate dignity for all, and we know that our actions toward this end must grow stronger to ensure greater justice for those who are most often marginalized or silenced. Our work has grown in intensity as our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has deepened, but we recognize how much further our efforts must go. Our faculty members are engaging more in conversations about how to support BIPOC students better in our learning environments, Student Affairs teams seek to amplify the voices of BIPOC students, and our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is implementing bias and diversity training for all University community members. We have always channeled our efforts in service for the greater good which is our unifying strength.
If justice is adequately served in the Chauvin case, we will breathe a collective sigh of relief and acknowledge there is still much work to do. We will also recognize the need for self-care to recuperate from the strain of this year of turmoil including the killing of George Floyd. If justice is thwarted, we will need each other even more, for strength, compassion, community, and action. Regardless of the outcome for George Floyd and his family, there are many other similar cases and racial injustices that still deserve our activism, education, and commitment. For this, we pray for courage: to stand up for justice, to speak truth in the face of injustice, and to honor the humanity of every single person with dignity and respect.
Please support your friends and neighbors who are feeling the weight of this era and the ongoing biases and racial inequity in up-close and personal ways. May we walk forward together in solidarity for a healthier community and nation.
Robin Kelley, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity Officer
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
Campus Events and Responses to Chauvin Trial Verdict
Per COVID-19 safety guidelines, all must wear masks and practice social distancing.
Campus Security and Public Safety remains in contact with local law enforcement partners to be informed about community demonstrations and programs.
GU Resources for Personal Support
- Health & Wellbeing offers counseling and support through the Center for Cura Personalis
- Counseling sessions are for all Gonzaga students. Confidentiality is strictly maintained. Counselors focused on the needs of students of color are available. Call (509)313-4052 for an appointment.
- ODEI: The gonzaga.edu/diversity website provides updates on from the Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, signature DEI programs, reports from our BIAS team, and Intercultural Yoga podcasts.
- Mission & Ministry offers support for those who want to talk on an individual level. Visit the Need to Talk page to be connected.
Growth & Learning for All
- How to Be a Better Ally to Your Black Colleagues – Harvard Business Review
- How to Be an Ally to Black Women – Chezie (Career insight for minorities)
- Responding to Racial Trauma – Harvard Graduate School of Education
- How Should I Talk about Race in My Mostly White Classroom? – Anti-Defamation League
- Pushing Back Against Racism and Xenophobia on Campuses – Hamedani, Markus and Moya, Inside Higher Ed
- Leveraging the Neuroscience of Now: Helping Students Thrive in Class in Times of Trauma – Mays Imad, Inside Higher Ed
- Trauma-Informed Teaching & Learning for Teachers – Mays Imad (video)
- Supporting Students Through the Chauvin Trial & Daunte Wright Shooting – Ryder University’s Teaching & Learning Center