April 20, 2021
A message from President Dennis Assanis and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Fatimah Conley
Dear UD Community,
Earlier today, a jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a case that sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and injustice in America. The trial and verdict represent the latest chapter in our nation’s tragic legacy of race and prejudice — particularly anti-Black racism. We understand this has been an anxious and painful time for everyone, especially for Black people, and all members of our community here at the University of Delaware.
As our nation tries to make sense of the pervasive and destructive nature of anti-Black racism, our conversations rightly focus on our shared goals to create a better world — one characterized by justice, freedom, diversity, equity, inclusion, respect, humanity and understanding. As one University of Delaware community, we must challenge ourselves every day to ask the question: How can our values and our actions bring that society into existence?
At UD, we have the resources and the obligation to discover new knowledge, inspire each other, teach future generations and drive progress toward peace in our world. A UD education provides far more than career preparation. It compels us to challenge the status quo, put our experiences into historical and social context, and find meaning in the events that shape our lives. Indeed, today’s UD students will become tomorrow’s leaders of positive change pertaining to equity and inclusion and so much more. Educated and empowered, we all must understand not only “what” and “why” things happen, but “how” we can fix problems and seek solutions.
Here at UD, we will continue to take actions toward addressing these issues. We are proud of the work of UD’s Antiracism Initiative, a grassroots effort that grew out of last summer’s protests. Our student-athletes initiated a productive conversation with community leaders regarding policing practices and continues to engage with the UD Police Department. UDPD is committed to being a model of exemplary policing, with ongoing training in community engagement, de-escalation techniques and other best practices for modern law enforcement.
Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to share their reactions to the Chauvin verdict at these upcoming events:
- Dean of Students Adam Cantley will moderate two student community gatherings 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, and 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 26., for students to share reactions, emotions and thoughts about the verdict. Students will need to log in with their UD credentials and the passcode “ComConnect”.
- A faculty/staff community gathering is planned for noon Friday, April 23. Employees will need to log in with their UD credentials and the passcode “118182”.
A list of additional University resources and events is available below to help strengthen and advance our community in this important work.
As our society continues to face new challenges and hardships every day, our vision of a better tomorrow at the University of Delaware drives everything we do. Together, we can — we will — make that vision a reality.
Dennis Assanis, President
Fatimah Conley, Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Seeds of Change Speaker Series: “What Does ‘Defund the Police’ Mean? A Real Conversation” — 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Join Student Diversity and Inclusion and University of Delaware Alternative Breaks for a workshop and moderated Q&A on what defunding the police means in actual practice, and how we build more equitable futures with local racial and environmental justice organizer Christianne Marguerite.
Wellbeing services and support are available. The Center for Counseling and Student Development is open and available remotely, and 24/7 mental health support remains available on the UD Helpline at 302-831-1001 for any student in need of someone to talk to.
For faculty and staff
The Employee Assistance Program is provided through ComPsych GuidanceResources. This is a free program available for State of Delaware Group Health Plan non-Medicare members and their dependents. As part of ComPsych’s commitment, EAP services are available through the end of the national COVID-19 public health emergency to all State of Delaware employees, including temporary, casual seasonal and benefit eligible employees who are not currently enrolled in a State of Delaware Highmark Delaware or Aetna health plan. In addition, Employee Health and Wellbeing has a variety of resources available to assist employees.
Talk About Race Discussion with Hassan El-Amin — Join a thought-provoking virtual discussion with writer/director/actor Hassan El-Amin, creator of “Talk About Race,” an original audio production of the Resident Ensemble Players, UD’s professional theatre.