A Message from President Bob Caslen

May 31, 2020

With heavy hearts, we mourn the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer while three other officers stood by in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our thoughts go out to Floyd’s family and to the families of all those who have been the victims of violent murders fueled by racism and hatred in our country. These events are a stark reminder of the dark divisions that continue to run through our society, the legacy of a dark past that we have not yet fully reconciled. We must acknowledge these divisions and commit to becoming a more just and equitable society.

We stand in solidarity with the African American community, as these events have only compounded the sense of grief, fear, and loss brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here as well, we are reminded of the systemic biases that shape our realities. It is our collective responsibility to challenge these institutional inequities and to demand better for ourselves and for future generations.

As Gamecocks, let us be leaders in these efforts. Our Carolinian Creed calls on us to respect the dignity of all persons, to respect the rights and property of others, to discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions. Violence and hateful rhetoric are not reflective of these values. If we are to begin the process of healing the wounds of racism, hate and bigotry that have brought us to this current tipping point, we must engage one another in thoughtful dialogue about our individual and collective experiences. We must do the work of educating ourselves about the harmful impact of racism and discrimination in all of its manifestations.

Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training are currently provided to UofSC faculty and staff and required of all students who are new to the Columbia campus. And multiple units are engaged in advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives across our campus. However, given this pivotal moment in which we find ourselves, we will intensify these efforts to ensure that we are equipping our students, faculty and staff with the tools needed to effectively navigate the current tensions in our society. To this end, we are assembling a team to work on the implementation of a new diversity module that will be required of all UofSC freshmen as part of their orientation process beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year. And we will amplify the training available to all students, faculty and staff to ensure that we have the resources needed to foster a campus culture that is reflective of our Creed.

In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. acknowledged the “interrelatedness of all communities and states,” noting that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Let us turn our anger into action, demanding justice where there is injustice, peace where there is violence, and love where there is hate. Let the suffocation of this moment be the impetus for change.

Campus Resources:

To report incidents of bias or hate, submit a Bias and Hate Incident Form

UofSC Counseling & Psychiatry: 803-777-5223 

UofSC Police Department: 803-777-4215

 

Tracey L. Weldon
Interim Chief Diversity Officer, Office of the Provost
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Bob Caslen
President