Dear USF Community,
As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd has concluded, we are all seeking to process this significant moment in American history and what it means in terms of our nation’s commitment to equity and justice.
While our country has worked together to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to strive to confront the longstanding racial pandemic that has devastated people of color across our nation, with a disparate impact on Black communities. USF, too, recognizes its own institutional challenges and is working to dismantle systemic racism within society and our communities.
Central to our role as an institution of higher education is a responsibility to help our students and communities understand the world around us and to convene crucial conversations that increase knowledge and understanding.
In our commitment to support diversity and inclusion, the University of South Florida continues to advance ambitious institutional change by implementing an anti-racism initiative and rejuvenating the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity. We are strengthening our commitment to the Office of Multicultural Affairs, continuing to support our research task force on anti-black racism, and our faculty have recently launched a new Center for Justice Research and Policy. We are working with leaders across the Tampa Bay region to address inequities and bias that impact all people of color. Our work is not yet done; these are important steps in an ongoing journey.
Our Principles of Community guide our path. They also direct us to increase our understanding and effectiveness by listening to the members of the Black community who share their experiences of unfairness, discrimination and injustice. By hearing and amplifying the voices within our communities of color more broadly, we move closer to living the values of empathy, individual dignity and equity.
Many members of our university are understandably feeling distress, frustration, anxiety and fatigue that it took an event of this magnitude to raise such an important issue to our common consciousness. Meanwhile, some may need time to process their feelings. We urge any member of our university community – faculty, staff or students – to reach out for support and resources. We urge everyone to be understanding and sensitive in keeping with our Principles of Community.
Painful events do not easily give way to understanding and change, but they can build solidarity and reveal commonalities across groups, especially with sustained and intentional commitment. We value unity at USF, and it is our collaborative spirit and commitment to positive change that will sustain us through these difficult times, and propel us toward a more just and equitable future.