Message from President Tessier-Lavigne: Confronting racial injustice

Dear Stanford community,

In recent days we have been painfully reliving the brutal death of George Floyd through the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s death highlighted the countless instances of racial inequity and violence experienced by Black Americans and other people of color in this country. As the trial was occurring, we also received terrible news of the killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo in encounters with police officers.

These events come against the backdrop of broad and persistent racial injustice in the United States. Our hearts are sickened and our consciences are affronted by the continuing acts of violence and prejudice we see committed against people of color. When such acts are inflicted on any members or groups in our community, they injure us all. In America and at Stanford, we must confront with urgency anti-Black and anti-Asian racism and other forms of racial hatred that are plaguing our country and harming our families and neighbors.

We have begun this work at Stanford, and it is occurring through the Black Community Council, the Community Board on Public Safety, the IDEAL Staff Advisory Committee and our other campus committees, coalitions and initiatives to ensure that equity and inclusion are not just aspirations but a reality for each member of the Stanford community. We have much more work to do, and sustained progress will require the commitment and involvement of each one of us.

The case in Minneapolis has now been sent to the jury, which will deliberate on a verdict. We will keep you informed about events in the Stanford community to provide a place for coming together and for discussion and interpretation of the trial’s outcome. For instance, the Stanford Criminal Justice Center and the Stanford Center for Racial Justice in Stanford Law School are organizing a post-verdict online panel discussion with experts in criminal and civil rights law.

These recent events only add to the distress so many are experiencing as a result of the pandemic and the other pressures in our lives. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and of one another. Please reach out to our university resources, including our well-being resources for students and the Faculty Staff Help Center , for any support you may need. Let us continue to stand together at Stanford for inclusion and justice.

Sincerely,

Marc Tessier-Lavigne


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