Stephens College President Dianne Lynch emailed the following message to all students, faculty and staff the morning of June 1, 2020.

I know that many of you have been following the events occurring around the country this weekend in direct response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota.

What we are watching on our screens is simultaneously awe-inspiring and deeply disturbing. Calls for immediate change in our social justice institutions remind us of the power of peaceful protest in a democracy, even as those protests in at least 12 cities across the country have become flashpoints for violence — not at the instigation of the thousands who have turned out to bear witness and march for change, but in response to what appears to be lawless opportunism or overly aggressive law enforcement. 

Today, I am reminded of our Ten Ideals — and in particular, of the power for good of Respect, Leadership, Sensitivity and Courage. I know that our Stephens community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic; that journey is now complicated and burdened by the anxiety, sorrow, and anger we feel in witnessing the unnecessary loss of Black lives and watching our nation’s cities in flames. But I am confident that our path forward is also inspired by our urgent recognition of our country’s painful history of discrimination, and our commitment to contributing to solutions through continuous dialogue and action. 

While we are not together today, we can act in community. For some, that may be practicing acts of self-care, such as avoiding all forms of media or sharing time via Zoom or cell with family and friends. For others, it may be stepping up to speak out as an ally, to text, call, post or engage in uncomfortable conversations within your own spheres of influence. For all, I hope it will include becoming better educated and informed (see this antiracist reading list by Ibrim X. Kendi).

I have asked Shaashawn Dial, our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to schedule a series of Zoom meetings in the coming days to bring together members of our community for discussion and reflection; we will be in touch with those details later today. I look forward to engaging in the kind of open, respectful and energetic dialogue that is a hallmark of Stephens College and a powerful pathway to change.

President Dianne Lynch

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