Standing Together

May 29, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

While we all profoundly feel the suffering and loss related to COVID-19—suffering and loss visited disproportionately on those who are Black, indigenous, people of color, and poor—we are appalled by the racist killings of recent weeks. We write to express our outrage; we stand in steadfast solidarity with our Black community; and we offer heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the racially-motivated violence that is taking place in various communities across America. Unchecked violence at the hands of police and civilians requires our - and all of society’s - urgent attention.

As a campus community, we stand with the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered while jogging in Georgia by two white men. We stand with Christian Cooper, who was the victim of a woman's attempt to use the police as a weapon against him while he pursued his passion for birdwatching in New York’s Central Park. We stand with the loved ones of Breonna Taylor, an essential worker during this pandemic who was killed in her home by police. We stand against t he senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer who knelt on his neck, while three others watched and assisted, as Mr. Floyd choked out the same final words of another slain Black man, Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.”

Let us say their names, acknowledge their humanity, and commit to doing what we can to build a more just society.

Let us also acknowledge that while these names and incidents made their way into the national news and discourse, they are not by any means isolated, nor is the racism that underlies them. 

According to Rutgers University Sociologist Frank Edwards, one out of every 1,000 Black men in America will be killed by a police officer. This makes them two and half times more likely than white men to die during encounters with officers.  

Less noticed by the mainstream media but equally important to elevate are Black women, gender non-conforming and trans people who have been murdered in recent weeks and months.

We must call out and hold accountable our broken structures, build bridges that will lead to mutual understanding and respect across differences, and work to create a future in which we can all thrive, especially in these most challenging times. This work must happen across the nation - and it must happen on a local level as well. 

We acknowledge the grief, anger, sadness, helplessness, and outrage that these killings create in our community. Let us channel those feelings toward a commitment to each others’ wellness. If you would like support, please contact UC Berkeley Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Counselors are available for phone and video counseling appointments. There are also new online self-help tools. Visit the CAPS website, call Counseling and Psychological Services at (510) 642-9494, or, when the Tang Center is closed, call the after-hours counseling line (855) 817-5667. CAPS employs mental health professionals trained to provide support to individuals from a wide array of identities, including traditionally marginalized or disenfranchised groups.

In addition, Be Well at Work - Employee Assistance provides free confidential counseling and referrals for our faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and postdocs. To schedule an appointment with an Employee Assistance counselor, please contact (510) 643-7754 or email employeeassistance@berkeley.edu.

Finally, please be aware of the following resources:

  • Student Organizations: Our campus has numerous and diverse student organizations that students may wish to get involved in. You can explore at callink.berkeley.edu

  • Centers for Educational Justice & Community Engagement:These centers provide space, programs, and services for Berkeley’s diverse student communities. Learn more at ejce.berkeley.edu/mcc or (510) 642-6528. 

  • Reporting: For information and support on reporting hate crimes or hate-motivated acts, visit stophate.berkeley.edu.

As a campus community, we must uphold a standard of care and respect in both words and actions that lives up to our values and principles of community. This is a time for greater self-examination of society’s institutions and structures—including our university—and a bold commitment to healthier national and campus cultures.  In this way, we honor lives lost or forever changed through acts of hate and violence by bringing about change for justice and belonging. 

 
Sincerely,
 
Carol Christ
Chancellor
 
Oscar Dubón, Jr.
Vice Chancellor, Equity & Inclusion

 

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