Dear NLU Community,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. I am so saddened by the trauma, pain, sorrow, rage, frustration, and hopelessness that so many in our community and across our country are feeling. Over the last several weeks, we have witnessed the senseless, unconscionable murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, as well as numerous other acts of violence—lethal and not—against Black people in our nation. We know by now that these are not isolated incidents, but are part of a familiar pattern. They are part of the fatal, wearisome injustice of the society we live in, reflecting the chronic inequality and racial divisions that have deep roots in the United States, and that continue to scar this country. This inequity has been further highlighted with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has disproportionately impacted our communities of color. This past week, the long-simmering rage and frustration over all of this boiled over.
Although we don’t all like to admit it, People of Color—and let’s be frank, especially Black people—live lives of relentlessly hostile scrutiny, and they have been telling us so for centuries. We have not listened very well, and we certainly have not sufficiently acted to change it, and we should all be feeling troubled by this. This problem belongs to all of us, as does the solution. We all have to own it, but especially leaders and those in positions of authority and influence.
In response to George Floyd’s death former President Obama stated that “….we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.” “Maddeningly normal” cannot be what we accept.
I am feeling uneasy because the truth of injustice and inequity is ringing loudly in my head. And while we cannot support or condone those who choose violence to hijack the message and the cause, it is critical that the message is not lost.
The NLU family stands united against senseless acts of hate and the systemic racism that produces and perpetuates them. As an institution of higher education, we have an obligation to fight ignorance and intolerance, model inclusivity and embrace the power that diversity represents. We must stand together with everyone suffering from racism and inequity. Hate and violence cannot be part of our community.
We must support peace while we impatiently strive to be better than we are and do the hard work to be more just, more inclusive, and committed to equity. We must build a future where life is not devalued and bigotry is eliminated. And we must do all of this while empowering our democracy and supporting civility, so that together, through education and open dialogue, we may move towards a more just society.
NLU community, we grieve together today, and let us honor our grief by working to bend the arc of justice. There is much to be done and it is up to us to harness the full power of our extraordinarily diverse community. Through transparency, collective solidarity, and open dialogue, we can work toward healing the wounds of division and growing as a community, a city, and – hopefully, one day – a country.
In the coming days I know that our entire community will be grappling with raw emotions, and I ask that we all work hard to support each other but especially our Black community. Below I am attaching some resources that may be of help for our students, faculty, and staff in the coming days and weeks.
This coming Wednesday, June 3, NLU will host a virtual Conversation Corner on the topic of racial injustice that anyone may attend. Join us in this safe space to discuss the injustice, protests, killings, brutality, hurt, anger, stress, etc. and what we all can do to help ourselves and our community feel empowered.
- When: Wednesday, June 3rd
- Time: 2 pm CT
- Access Eagle Life nl.presence.io for the zoom link.
- Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage you to seek support as you need it. Reach out to friends, family, and mental health professionals who can offer a listening ear, and please know that support is always available.
- For students: NLU has partnered with Skylight Counseling Center to offer a variety of counseling resources. Students seeking counseling should leave a message to request an appointment at 312.261.3636 or 847.947.5656 or email email@example.com
- For faculty and staff: Below is information for our Employee Assistance Program with Perspectives. Perspectives offers confidential assistance to employees and their families 24/7. Perspectives Online is a great website that provides information, resources and tools for a vast number of issues, ranging from parenting and child care to health and wellness, career development, workplace training and more.
- Username: NAT501
- Password: perspectives
- (800) 456-6327
Overall suggestion to faculty and staff right now:Adjust your expectations to fit these unique circumstances and be mindful of what is doable for you and your students. Identify what course content is most essential, what to prioritize, and what to let go of. What is really necessary for students to learn during this time of despair, fear, rage and uncertainty? Streamline and simplify as much as possible. Look at this term as Trauma Teaching – do no harm.
- Teaching through a crisis: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources/teaching_resources/interactions/crisis.htm
- Focus on Student Well-Being: https://www.edutopia.org/article/focusing-student-well-being-times-crisis
- Talking circles: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/talking-circles-for-restorative-justice-and-beyond
- Guide for managing yourself during “hot” moments in the classroom: https://kaneb.nd.edu/assets/181616/
Nivine Megahed, Ph.D.