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Grief, Anger and Needed Change

The inhumane and unjust circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday have left many in our community, myself included, feeling deep sorrow, frustration and understandable anger. Over the weekend we’ve witnessed this grief and anger displayed in many ways, including a peaceful protest in Raleigh, and unfortunately, separate acts of vandalism against many of our local businesses that have done so much to help build a culture of inclusion in our community.

As a higher education community dedicated to thought and action that improves the world around us, we condemn acts of racism, discrimination and violence.

In the course of the past few months, we have again witnessed more instances of violence against people of color – including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – that serve as a continual and painful reminder that unjust racial disparities continue in our country. How could we not be sorrowful, and angry, at this moment? It is past time for drastically needed and rightful change.

We must acknowledge that a person’s race is still too often used to determine how they will be treated in almost every aspect of American life. And as a leading U.S. institution of higher education, we are committed to our critical role in helping right the injustices of racism and discrimination. I believe higher education can and should be a positive influence on lives well beyond academic instruction, and that we need to help lead the way forward toward equality, equity and justice for all in our country.

As the state’s largest public university, we have the responsibility to educate ourselves and those who pass through our doors to overcome ignorance, unite against intolerance, model inclusivity, and advance the dignity and power of diversity.

The events of this week must serve as a catalyst for all in our community to be unequivocally dedicated to building an inclusive environment that recognizes and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. I remain committed to that goal, and expect you will do all you can in your role at NC State – as a student, faculty or staff member, or friend of the university – to eliminate racism and all other forms of discrimination.

As members of this intellectual community, I strongly encourage all of us to fight for positive change powerfully, thoughtfully and peacefully. I also encourage each of us to embrace with humility that we all have more to learn as it relates to understanding our own places of prejudice and how we can strive to overcome how these impact our own actions.

As Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Sheri Schwab wrote in her recent Statement Regarding the Events in Minneapolis (if you haven’t yet read it, please do), Provost Arden and I have charged a task force to ensure advancing diversity, inclusion and well-being is inherent and represented in every aspect of NC State’s next 10-year Strategic Plan. We’ll be finalizing the plan over the summer, and encourage our community to provide your feedback via the Strategic Plan Task Force website.

Over the summer, I’ll also be working with Vice Provost Schwab and other university leaders to ensure opportunities for vital community discussions and feedback opportunities related to diversity and inclusion on campus when we return in the fall, in whatever format those need to take in the new COVID-19 environment.

In the meantime, please keep up with important diversity-and-inclusion-related news, events, announcements and opportunities to get involved by subscribing to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity’s (OIED) Diversity Digest. Also, review the Diversity web portal from the university’s homepage to find education and training resources, diversity and inclusion programs, details about NC State’s Campus Community Centers, an events calendar and more important information.

NC State’s greatest strength is its people – all its people – and their diversity of thought and experience. It is on each and all of us to fight injustice and advance a truly diverse, inclusive and supportive environment for all on our campus and well beyond. That’s what it means to be part of this Wolfpack.

Randy Woodson, Chancellor