The experiences of academic year 2019-2020 have shaped each of us in ways that will not soon be forgotten. We went about our days, weeks and months looking forward to the spring, a time of year that brings renewal and hope. With the spring, however, came a world-wide contagion that the majority of us walking the planet had never before experienced. The pandemic the world is confronting doesn’t discriminate based on class, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ability status. It can harm one human body the same as it can harm another, yet the disparities in the proportion of devastation from communities with resources to those without with regard to the havoc the virus has wreaked, cannot be ignored.
It is no coincidence that from one end of the country to the other, people of color and those living in poverty make up a substantial percentage of those who are suffering and dying from the pandemic even as these words are written and as they will soon be read. These are the same populations that are marginalized and discriminated against continually in our economy, our healthcare system, and our schools. They are the same populations being needlessly killed solely because of the color of their skin.
No, marginalizing the same groups over and over again in so many brutal ways both hidden and visible is no coincidence. Continuing to do so is without question, the very definition of malevolence. It is going against the commandment and inheritance we have been gifted with: Love your neighbor as yourself.
The faculty and staff within the School of Education are working to dismantle hatred in all of its forms by coming together to study systems of oppression and to look at new ways of being with and for others. As we seek to prepare teachers, school counselors, administrators, school psychologists, and professionals in the area of sport and athletics, we commit to bringing the act of loving others unconditionally into our classrooms, our curriculum, our practice and our relationships with one another. This is a pedagogy and practice of hope meant to transform how we live with others and ultimately, how we love others. We will do the hard work of critically questioning so that the affect our students and graduates have on the lives of others will multiply in ways that have the potential to change the world, even during a pandemic and beyond.
Yolanda Gallardo, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education