Today's Update: Monday, June 1

June 1, 2020

Dear Student Life Team,

 Last week I shared my thoughts and feelings about the killing of George Floyd and how we, as a nation and a people, need to use our voices to decry hatred, racism and injustice. Over the weekend, I was proud of our community members who spoke out in the streets and in a variety of ways, but at the same time I found myself so concerned for everyone’s safety. This concern led me to send a message to the student body, honoring the deep pain so many of us are feeling, and also urging them to put safety, their own and that of others, first. 

As a resident of downtown Columbus, I am witness to the visible pain and fear. Still, I recognize the truth spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a half century ago, “Riots are the language of the unheard.” Today, more than 50 years after he made that observation, the same people Dr. King was referring to; the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, are still unheard in our society. The reactions are as understandable as the actions are unjustifiable.  

To my Black and Brown colleagues and friends – I see you, I hear you and I understand the pain. The anger. The fear. Black Lives DO Matter.  

To my colleagues and allies in this work who are seeking a path to understanding and ways to support: Listen when we’re ready to speak. Support when we have no words. Pause and reflect on what action can you take to help make our world safer. And to those who are wrestling to make meaning of all the injustices and actions, I understand – it's hard to make sense.  

We, as members of this university community, are in a unique position to be the change. As part of a great university founded on the egalitarian principles of our Land Grant mission, we can and must lead the way. As Dr. Drake said in his weekend message, “We must reaffirm our commitment as Buckeyes to our university values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance.” And, in the same message that hopefully you saw, he called on us to “act by reflecting on what’s in our hearts and directing our activities to collaborative efforts to produce lasting change.”   

Talking alone won’t solve society’s ills. But dialogue that involves thoughtful perspectives and active listening is a good place to start. That sharing can lead to action, and action can lead to real change. I’m afraid that without real change, change that is guided from the heart to the head to action, we will be right back here. That would be unacceptable.  

Since we are all scattered in different places, we are not connecting in our physical office spaces to check in with each other and process our emotions. So, I invite you to join in tomorrow (Tuesday, June 2) at 5 p.m. for an opportunity to share thoughts, feelings and concerns. You don’t need to register, and you can come and go as your time permits. Here is the information: Join via Zoom at osu.zoom.us/j/99813438925 or by phone at (646) 876-9923 (meeting ID 998 1343 8925). There was a similar session for students late this afternoon hosted by Student Life’s Multicultural Center and Counseling and Consultation Service. You all need support and be reminded to take care of you too. 

Please let me know how our Student Life leadership team can support you at this incredibly hard time. I am continually grateful for all the Scarlet and Great, and difficult, things that you do.  

Melissa