President Jukoski’s Statement on Black Lives Matter
You must be as distressed as I am after this week of chaos, violence and death. My head is spinning as I’ve reflected on how we are confronting two viruses that our impacting our nation today—one is novel and invisible, the other is violent and embedded in the culture and history of our nation. The only way we have been able to fight COVID-19 is to distance ourselves physically from each other. The only way for us to battle the virus of systematic racism is for us to stand together. I’ve become acutely aware of not only how connected we all are with the coronavirus as it affects the entire world, but also how disconnected we all are from one another with the anger and rage we have seen. The layers of pain which have been exposed, the language of “domination,” “thugs,” and “battle space” which we have heard, and the violence which we have witnessed have stunned, enraged and frightened me.
Yet again, we are witnessing this nation’s long legacy of racism that continues to damage and destroy the lives of black people. I cry for the many Black Americans who have died at the hands of injustice. The heartless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis occurred soon after the unjust shootings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville and so many others. It coincided with the appalling harassment of Christian Cooper in New York’s Central Park, an incident that demonstrates how easily racist complaints put black lives in danger. The COVID-19 pandemic itself has killed black and brown Americans at higher rates than other groups, magnifying disparities in healthcare and economic well-being. I share the pain of our nation, while acknowledging that I can never fully know the mix of grief, frustration, and anger experienced by our students and employees who know racism in very personal ways.
Cornel West said, “None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.“
I belong to the Three Rivers community and as your president, I will work with students, faculty, staff and administration to confront and address racism and bias on our campus in all forms. Commitments to diversity, inclusivity, equity and human rights are fundamental to our mission and values at the college. This past year, Three Rivers joined the national Achieve the Dream initiative, which examines how the College promotes equity, inclusivity, and diversity. Faculty, staff and students are working together on committees, including one on race, that examine how we currently work with different groups as well identifying where there are gaps in support. We are committed to providing a safe, equitable environment for our students to learn. We are creating a webpage filled with lists of resources and allies. Please check back as this page is populated with more information.
We all have a responsibility to stand up against racism, wherever and whenever we encounter it. As educators and professionals focused on expanding human potential, we hold a special responsibility to raise our voices to condemn the violence against people of color. We need to say unequivocally, “Black lives matter.”
In the midst of all of this, we know good and have experienced good in one another. Let us be grateful to and for one another. And let us not lose hope or lose heart.
Even though we are physically distant from each other at this time, we belong to each other. As advocates and allies, we can defeat the virus of racism together and end the inequity that has plagued our nation for hundreds of years. Our students deserve a better world than the one they’re witnessing now.
As we move forward, to ensure that Three Rivers continually addresses racism and bias, I urge you to approach me with your thoughts, ideas and concerns. Let’s keep the dialogue open — we want you to be part of this.