In the last 10 days our nation has witnessed a deadly shooting at the start of the Lunar New Year, a second shooting involving farmworkers who were still working as field laborers well past the age of 70, and the release of a video showing the brutal murder of Tyre Nichols.
This has all happened in just the first few weeks of 2023.
These incidents are all reminders of the systemic failures that continue to plague us, resulting too often in harm to our communities. As the leading research university in the state of Utah, we must continually challenge ourselves to remain on the forefront of naming the failures in our systems and committing to finding solutions.
The University of Utah set up the George Floyd Memorial Fund two years ago in response to terribly similar events—but we recognize this work is not done and that more is needed. The U continues to be committed to our Call to Action and the Day of Collective Action, where campus and community come together to pause and learn about steps we can all take to advance equity and inclusion in our own workplaces and lives. Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, Mary Ann Villarreal reminds us that “We have a responsibility to acknowledge these deeply rooted systems built out of anti-Black racism that have created the marginalized experiences of invisibility for so many others.”
Leaders across campus have stressed the importance of reaching out to others, looking out for each other, and working diligently to build stronger community connections. “The work of building safe communities where all can be protected from harm belongs to each one of us,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mitzi Montoya said. “We can’t look away when we see acts of violence and hatred — that is when our love and attention is needed most. We can, and must, find a better way forward.”
We urge anyone in the campus community who is experiencing trauma or grief to reach out to the many resources available throughout campus. “We know how heart-wrenching and painful this can be for many in our University of Utah family,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald. “Please check on each other and reach out if you need additional support.”