We know many of you are hurting, angry, tired, or even struggling. Although we can’t be on campus together during this time, we are still here for you and ready to support. Our diversity is our strength. We are here to listen to you, and we stand in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, and staff.
— Dr. Cathy Akens, Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
The following message was sent to Student Affairs staff members on May 31, 2020.
The past several days have been some of the most difficult that the country has witnessed in decades. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, which followed several other racially-charged incidents in recent weeks, has once again shined a light on the systemic racism that unfortunately still roots itself in our nation.
At UNCG, two things we often highlight as points of pride are our diversity and our Culture of Care. We are proud to support our students who come from all races, orientations, and backgrounds. We tell them that UNCG is a community, and they will be cared for, supported, and empowered.
The diversity of our student population is reflected in our staff, and our Culture of Care extends to you. I can only imagine the hurt, anger, fear, and frustration that many of you feel. It would be a disservice to ignore the fact that while these events are impacting all of us, they are particularly impacting our Black colleagues and their families. I hurt for you, and I welcome your voice on what we can do to support you, and most importantly – what you need us to hear.
We have a responsibility to stay true to our values. Just as we remain committed to caring for our students during this time, we must also examine how we are caring for each other. How can we support our Black colleagues? Are we reaching out? Are we listening? What can we do better?
We talk about the impact our departments make on our students’ co-curricular experience and the cultural and social education they receive beyond the classroom. We also need to seek ways to address the broader inequities and disparities that are inherent in so many of our systems in this country, including in our own community.
I welcome any conversation you would like to have, and I encourage you to do the same for your colleagues across campus. As part of the next steps that we’ve already outlined for our Division as part of the CECE survey results, you can anticipate further dialogue. More than ever, we need to commit to our work of cultivating an inclusive environment that acknowledges, respects, and supports people of all races and backgrounds. I am confident that we can work together to create a community where everyone – our students and our staff – feel their identities are honored, their voices are heard, and their contributions are valued.
Take care of yourselves and each other.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs