Message from Chancellor Sartarelli

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Dear Campus Community:
I thank you for your patience as I collected my own thoughts and gathered additional perspectives.
The events of the past week have been horrific, and I join you in condemning those responsible for the murder of Mr. Floyd. This despicable act grew its roots in systematic injustice and a sense of privilege, a lack of accountability, for committing such atrocities against African Americans. To be more clear, let us not ignore the fact that the past week comes after hundreds of years of oppression, inhumane treatment and cruelty. This is the latest illustration of an often deadly power differential, but far from the only illustration. What may have been shocking to many people was not shocking to anyone who lives, every single day, with racism and intolerance, and with the aggression that sometimes ensues from those beliefs. I can’t pretend that I know how it must feel for any person of color to simply leave the house each day, or for the families they leave behind, knowing that just living their lives is sometimes a dangerous proposition. The fear, anxiety and uncertainty must be nearly debilitating. The threat of what could be, and the reminder of what has already been, must loom large with every new day.
I cannot say I’ve walked in those shoes, but what I can do is commit to you that our campus will not tolerate acts of violence or discrimination. We will do our best to meet our students and employees in the space where they exist, and offer whatever support we can to fortify their path. As an institution, we have not just the opportunity but the moral obligation to stand up against acts of hatred and violence. We will continue to do the best work we can by way of our academics, our Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and our Office of Community Engagement, and, truly, by each one of us. We have a long way to go. We have a local history that is deeply indicative of the national crisis that has played out over the last week and the years that led to these moments. As such, empty words will not suffice. I urge everyone reading this to ask yourself how you can be a part of the solution, and how your action, or inaction, represents who you are as a person and as a Seahawk. It isn’t that we can do better – it is that we must. I encourage us all to continue to engage in this dialogue, broadly and individually, and ask the hard questions that may lead to productive answers.
In the early days of the current pandemic, and sometimes now, we all likely referenced being “in this together.” I see now that this wasn’t accurate for COVID-19, as we have all experienced the circumstances uniquely. In contrast, given the horrors of the last week, and to honor and memorialize Mr. Floyd and others who have suffered similar fates, we must be in this together. I believe we must unite in terms of creating solutions and offering support, protection and a safe place, literally and figuratively, when our fellow human beings are marginalized and attacked for their color, orientation, or beliefs. We must unite, we must not sit idle, and we must move through this as a campus, safely, constructively, and compassionately. I stand with you, and I thank you for the role you can play in making our community as safe and supportive as possible, for all.
Seahawks together,
Jose V. Sartarelli