Bridgewater College President Dr. David W. Bushman sent an email this afternoon to the College community addressing the recent deaths of African Americans Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I write today on behalf of the College with the heaviest of hearts as we face again the consequences of racism and our society’s collective failure to recognize the dignity of every person. The deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are just the most recent examples of African Americans and other people of color being assaulted or killed. And while our attention may have been focused on the pandemic, the underlying realities of inequality have never gone away and have been manifested now in unspeakable ways.
Racism, whether egregious and horrifying and open for all to see, or quiet and daily and disguised to all but its victims, has no place in our society. Aspiring to freedom for all, equality for all, and respect for all is not sufficient – we must make those words and those aspirations a reality for all. We are not there yet, and in weeks like these it’s easy to lose hope, and forget that, for all of our differences, we share a common humanity.
Bridgewater College was founded on the values of goodness, truth, beauty and harmony. We denounce intolerance, bigotry and racism precisely because they are manifestly incompatible with our mission and values. We stand together and especially with those of marginalized identities as we work to serve the dignity and worth of every person. It is especially at difficult moments like these that I reflect on the importance of higher education and our responsibilities not only to each other but also to the community beyond our campus. We know that one of the key roles of any college or university is to educate our students for lives of engagement in a pluralistic society. We must ask the difficult questions of ourselves and we must confront the grievous failures of our society. There may be no place better suited to this endeavor than a college campus. We choose to celebrate diversity and inclusion and we must model to the rest of society the appropriate way to approach differences—with respect, careful listening and courage.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to a CARE Team member for any needed support in the days ahead. As we each grieve in our own way we will each deal with emotions and fears in our own way. Know that we are a community, that we stand together, and that we are here to support and help you.
David W. Bushman