What We Are Called to Do

June 02, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents and Friends:

The tragic murder of George Floyd has sparked protests and riots across our nation. So many of us have had enough. More importantly, we have been saying “enough” far too long.

We are right to be enraged, but we must resist being overcome by the hate we wish to extinguish. As Martin Luther King so eloquently stated:

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. [1]

Dr. King declared, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it curves toward justice.” [2]  We need to believe this; it must be our compass, but, from our vantage point in history, that arc stretches far too long.

For tens of millions, the structural inequities of our nation have been magnified by the pandemic. While the tragedies of COVID-19 are great, they are but a moment in time.

During our current moment of uncertainty, the murder of George Floyd confirmed one certainty: the lived experience of Americans continues to be desperately divided along lines of race and privilege. This is a long history that is neither moral nor curving toward justice in due course.

With determination in our hearts, we must seize this moment and demand justice.

We also must resist social inertia that too often ebbs our initial rage at injustice toward the comfort of complacency. A tacit response is a complicit response. Thoreau wrote, “What I have to do is to see…that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.” [3]  Silence is lending ourselves to that which must be condemned.

Our Statement on Diversity and Inclusiveness declares that Susquehanna University is committed to being an engaged, culturally inclusive campus.

We must move from a state of being to one of doing. To be engaged does not mean to be aware, to be respectful, and to be empathetic. We need to be aware, respectful, and empathetic, but to be engaged is to be actively involved. It is not enough not to be racist, we must become actively anti-racist. We must be advocates, we must be defenders, and we must be champions for what is right and just.

This is what we are called to do. This is what it means to be engaged citizens. This is what it truly means to achieve, lead, and serve.

Sincerely,

Jonathan D. Green, President
Jennifer M. Bucher, Vice President for Human Resources
Michael A. Coyne, Executive Vice President
Michael Dixon, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer
Melissa K. Komora, Vice President for Advancement
Susan L. Lantz, Vice President for Student Life
Aaron Martin, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Valerie Martin, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences & Vice Provost
DJ Menifee, Vice President for Enrollment
Alissa Packer, Speaker of the Faculty
Dave Ramsaran, Provost & Dean of the Faculty
Matthew Rousu, Dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business
Phil E. Winger, Vice President & Chief of Staff

______________________________

[1] MLK (1967).  Strength to Love, 47.
[2] Martin Luther King Jr. (1965), paraphrasing Theodore Parker.
[3] Henry David Thoreau (1849), Civil Disobedience.