Addressing Systemic Racism
The Division of Student Affairs (DoSA) condemns the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other innocent black men and women. The police brutality that continues to manifest itself is but one of many symptoms of the pervasive systemic racism that divides our country. We stand with the protesters and with all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). As always, we stand firm in our support of individuals regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation, or religious creed because we all have the right to exist peaceably in the world.
We cannot allow ourselves to say, “I am colorblind.” We cannot ignore the recognition of race, the distinct social and cultural experiences of people of color, or the injustices perpetrated upon people of color. We cannot fall back on the tired refrain that “All Lives Matter.” While undoubtedly true, we need to support black individuals and acknowledge the historical oppression of black lives: black lives were held in bondage for hundreds of years, black lives were forced into segregated spaces, black lives were denied the right to vote, black lives were lynched, and black lives were and continue to be murdered without cause. All Lives Won’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.
As the Vice President for Student Affairs, it is both my personal and professional mission to ensure we create a comprehensive and inclusive experience for our students. Our University’s latest message addressed that I was asked to organize meetings with student leaders, the Philadelphia Police Department leadership, and Temple Police to discuss student concerns. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly. It is my commitment to truly listen to concerns and use my voice to provide action to these issues. I know we can be doing more, and it is my commitment to make sure we are. As you have been, I welcome each of you to continue using your platforms to hold us accountable.
Although we will not condone the rioting and looting by the few opportunists seeking to profit from the current circumstances, our hearts are with the peaceful protesters who have borne witness to the history of oppression and its legacy and are fighting to change the system. They believe Black Lives Matter. Here in Student Affairs, we know you are in pain. We see you and we will do our part to continue your movement. We will continue to create and sustain safe and inclusive spaces for all students as well as reflect on our own practices to ensure that we are operating in the most just and fair manner. We urge all students, staff, and faculty to speak up loudly in support of the change we hope to see. If you would like to better understand your role, find out how you can help, need someone to talk to about processing your feelings, or learn how to be the leaders we need for a better tomorrow, please contact the following offices and organizations, which are either DOSA-affiliated or one of our campus partners:
Please take care of each other and support each other.
Theresa A. Powell, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs