Dear Worcester State community,
It is with great sadness that I watched both the peaceful protests and ensuing riots that took place in Minneapolis and other cities last week and into this weekend, sparked by the death of George Floyd who was killed while in police custody. The actions are painful reminders that racism, in all its forms, is still our nation’s unresolved challenge. That the African American community must still cry out for justice, for police reform, and for equal treatment under the law, some 28 years after the Rodney King travesty, is heartbreaking.
Worcester State University strives to make our campus a welcoming environment for its entire community, a place where all students are able to learn, develop, and thrive. This can only be done in a setting that is free of discrimination and racism. Therefore, where we see racist behavior or speech, we must not condone it. Where we see opportunities to broaden diversity and inclusion, we must build capacity. And where there are difficult instances of bias to address, we must confront them head on.
Worcester State has demonstrated a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality, most recently when we held our Rally for Unity in February. Becoming who we aim to be, however, requires an on-going effort, sustained over time, before it becomes our better reality. I am encouraged by initiatives underway, knowing we must continue to do more.
Our University’s Police Chief Jason Kapurch has initiated a review of the police department’s policies, procedures, and protocols to ensure they result in “professional conduct, democratic policing and procedural justice for all people,” as called for by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. Likewise, Provost Lois Wims and Dr. Stephen Morreale, both of whom worked in law enforcement and have examined bias in policing, will begin work on programming for these topics and host discussions with the campus community this fall.
I’ve been in discussions with the student group Voices for Justice, who earlier this academic year, challenged university leadership to get to the root of what they see as persistent bias on campus. They plan to have conversations in the fall on the topic of race and bias. Even though we are not physically present, and we have been dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am reminded that our unresolved challenge persists, both nationally and locally, and requires our steadfast attention.
Such topics are difficult and can produce feelings that run the range of emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current situation or the global pandemic, please make use of the Counseling Services (for students) 508-929-8072 or the Employee Assistance Program (for employees) – All One Health at 800-489-1854 or Mass4You at 844-263-1982.
Please stay safe, and I encourage us all to treat one another with dignity and respect.
Barry M. Maloney,
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