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Message from Sarah Mangelsdorf and Mercedes Ramirez Fernandez

To the University of Rochester Community:

We write you today to share our sadness, anger and fear, and to tell you that if you are feeling the same you are not wrong. You are not wrong to feel a sense of immense loss and grief over the murder of George Floyd. You are not wrong to feel angry, hopeless, and frustrated with the structural and systemic racism that creates barriers to opportunity and inspires ignorance, bigotry, and violence. You are not wrong to feel outrage when you see the video of a white woman calling the police on Christian Cooper, simply for asking her to put her dog on a leash.

It is okay to feel what you’re feeling. We are feeling it too. At a time when our country is facing the greatest health crisis in a generation—a crisis that is disproportionately killing black and brown people—we are forced to deal with painful reminders of hate and discrimination. 

But we also write today to tell you that you are not alone. We are concerned for those in our community who are grieving and who are afraid. We can assure you that you are part of a University of Rochester community that cares for you, respects you, and wants you to succeed. We know our community is not perfect. It is subject to the same social challenges that we see in cities and communities across the country. But we take comfort in knowing that our institution will always strive to do better.

In light of the recent events in Minneapolis and around the country, however, it is clear that words of acknowledgement and comfort are not enough. Community-engaged action is needed. We must continue to educate and empower each other to be committed champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the coming weeks, the Office of Equity and Inclusion will produce a series of roundtable podcasts to bring together the voices and views of our community. It is our hope that these open, honest, and courageous conversations will be a platform to discuss real issues through a racial and social justice lens. More than just talk, we intend to have conversations that inspire action. 

Lastly, we want to say that it is okay if you are struggling. We have all been witness to egregious acts of hate and intolerance in recent days, but these incidents follow years – centuries – of injustice. We encourage you to contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion so we can help connect you with the appropriate resources. Of course, if you are a student at the University of Rochester, the University Counseling Center (UCC) and the CARE Resource Center are available to help. If you are an employee, you can find services and support through the Employee Assistance Program.

Wishing you all peace and strength in solidarity,

Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
President

Mercedes Ramírez Fernández
Richard Feldman Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer