The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, following other recent unspeakable tragedies, makes clear yet again that systemic discrimination and unjust racial disparities continue to plague our country. It is past time for change.
We cannot remain silent in the face of this heart-breaking reality. As an institution of higher education, we have an obligation to fight ignorance and intolerance, model inclusivity and embrace the power that diversity represents.
In the face of hatred and bias, we must speak out. We must not accept apathy, indifference or silence, otherwise we allow hatred, prejudice and intolerance to grow.
Our message today is, foremost, one of profound compassion for all who live in fear that the color of their skin, gender identity, ethnicity or religion makes them a target of hate. Our hearts ache as we can only imagine the trauma, pain and frustration that many are feeling at this time.
This message also reaffirms Penn State’s commitment to disrupting hate, bias and racism whenever and wherever we encounter it, and to creating the most inclusive and diverse community that we possibly can – one that is free of discrimination; one that embraces differences; and one that respects all individuals.
We support our community as you express your sadness and anger through peaceful protest, and we know it is even more challenging to support and lift each other up during this global pandemic, with the added difficulty of social distancing. However, please know that our entire University community grieves with you, supports you and joins with you as we strive for positive change.
Eric J. Barron
President, Penn State
May 30, 2020