Dear Lycoming College Community,
I have been struggling to find the voice and craft the words that adequately respond to the pain, suffering and injustice experienced by our community, the nation and the world. Like many of you, I have been overwhelmed by feelings of anger, despair, and grief by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others that are less publicized.
Since we were all on campus in March, we have seen again and again that, despite decades of hard work to bring about change, promote equity, challenge racism, and become more inclusive, even the most fundamental human rights have not yet been secured. We have been painfully reminded that injustice and inequality remain all too common in our country. In recent days, people across the country have reacted with grief, anger, and outrage. Many have exercised the right to protest.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the inequities that persist in our nation. It has caused disproportionate pain and suffering in black and brown communities already facing inequalities in housing, employment opportunities, and access to essential services. COVID-19 infection and fatality rates in communities of color are two to three times higher than the national average. These disproportionate infection and fatality rates are connected to the fact that these communities still do not have access to quality health care.
The Lycoming College community has been physically separated from one another as this painful chapter in American history has unfolded. We do not have the opportunity for dialogue in our classrooms, residence halls, and gathering spaces. We have not been able to comfort one another in person. We have not been able to learn directly from one another and to use our shared capacity for reason to make connections and explore the complexity of what we have witnessed. When we reassemble in the fall, we must and will take the time to come together, engage one another, reason and reflect.
We can come together spiritually at this time, however, to grieve the deaths of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor and others who have suffered a similar fate. We can also grieve for those within our community and around the world who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. We can use our education to understand the anger and outrage that have been stirred by the most recent acts of injustice and racism. Through our shared tradition as a liberal arts institution, we can unite in affirming peaceful protest as a democratic right that must be guarded and preserved. Even from the depths of our grief and the immediacy and rawness of our anger, we can believe in the possibility of change. We can demand action and we can act. We can affirm our belief that our world can do better and make a commitment that Lycoming College can do better. We can recommit to the idea of building a more just, a more equitable, a more inclusive and a more humane world.