"A watershed moment in time for our country..." - a statement from Utica College

June 9 Watershed Moment Pull Quote Graphic

"This is a watershed moment in time for our country, and as a higher education institution, we are at the intersection of history. Our mission calls us to step forward." 

June 9, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Over the past week, we, like all of you, have engaged in conversations about the murder of George Floyd, the long history of racial injustice behind it, and the structural inequalities that continue to separate us. Most impactful have been the conversations we’ve had with small and large groups of our students, with whom we have been reaching out to in order to get their perspective, hear how they are processing these events, and better understand what they are thinking.

These conversations have included a cross-section of students. All of them, be they Black, African-American, of color, or White, have expressed their outrage over the circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s death and the pattern of police brutality it follows. These students have offered a depth of perspective and frame of understanding that is not easily captured in the national dialogue. They have been honest, compassionate, respectful, and vulnerable, and they have taken risks to share their personal circumstances and experiences.

Their stories are sobering, complex, and nuanced. We have heard from students for whom racism and racial injustice are part of their lived experience. We have heard from students who live with the distress of having to navigate multiple marginalized identities. We have heard from students – Black, Brown, and White students – who are from families of police officers and/or who, themselves, aspire to careers in law enforcement.

This is a watershed moment in time for our country, and as a higher education institution, we are at the intersection of history. Our mission calls us to step forward. It is up to us to lead first. Our students are asking for more opportunities to talk. They are asking for more opportunities both in and out of the classroom to learn and engage in dialogue about the conditions that perpetuate social injustice and inequity. They are asking for more people to stand with them in demanding change. We are listening, and we will answer their call.

College and university campuses – and the young people that populate them – have historically been at the center of social change in America, and we pledge to be front and center now. If we let this opportunity pass without acting, it will be at our peril as a community and as a nation.

We are confident that our campus can be a model for the type of change that is desperately needed in our world. Our faculty and staff colleagues are leaning into this opportunity. We don’t take our responsibility lightly. This work requires each and every one of us – faculty, staff, students, and alumni – to have our hands, our hearts, and our minds on deck as we move forward. It’s up to all of us to keep this conversation going.

Our students are primary to this conversation and to the process that helps to shape and mold the direction of our College. We will ensure that their voices are heard.

We see you, we hear you, and we stand with you.

Laura Casamento

Anthony Baird
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Todd Pfannestiel

Jeff Gates
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

May 31 Statement on the murder of George Floyd

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