April 21, 2021
Dear campus community,
Much of our nation’s attention has been focused on the trial of Derek Chauvin, who last night was convicted of murder in the killing of George Floyd. We extend our continued sympathy to George Floyd’s family. While important, this verdict cannot bring him back, but it can be a step toward healing, and it should be a continued call to action.
As I stated last summer, racism cannot and will not be tolerated at SVSU. It is incumbent upon all at the university and in our communities to create justice and equity for all, and especially for those who have been disenfranchised. Throughout this academic year, we have been working to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our university. We are holding a town hall this Friday, April 23 to share progress with faculty and staff. If you have not yet registered and would like to participate, please contact the Office of Diversity Programs at 989-964-4068.
As news of the guilty verdict in the trial sinks in, we understand that members of our community may experience a wide range of emotions. We encourage anyone needing support to reach out and seek the help or comfort they may need, whether that be from a trusted friend or colleague, or from professionals in our Mental Health and Wellness Center, which is available at (989) 964-7078.
As a former police officer, I view this tragedy from multiple perspectives, and there is one in particular that I wish to share with you. I want each of us to look not only at the important global issues this case has highlighted, but also to ask ourselves the fundamental question “What can I do to make a difference?” I am reminded that there were other officers who were on the scene and who were in a position to intervene and prevent George Floyd’s senseless death. Those individuals will face accountability in due course. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from their actions and inaction, and from the many who have raised their voices over the past year.
Most of us in our lives and careers will be confronted with situations where we see others commit wrongdoing. Are we prepared to intervene? How do we educate ourselves and broaden our perspectives? How and when do we get involved and prevent a situation from escalating? In recent years, we as a university have worked to provide resources for our faculty, staff and students to gain the knowledge and confidence to take action. We must commit to ongoing training so that our skills remain current and sharp, and so that we can use them when necessary. We will continue this important work and we are open to ideas on additional training. I encourage faculty to engage in discussions with their students, as well.
We at SVSU remain committed to building and sustaining a campus community that is safe, supportive and inclusive for all of us.
Donald J. Bachand, President
Office of the President