A message about the George Floyd murder trial verdict

20 April 2021

Dear Carleton Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As I send this message, the world is reacting to the announcement of guilty verdicts in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder of George Floyd. A multitude of emotions have surrounded this trial, which has highlighted the grief and trauma of this past year, and laid bare yet again necessary debates about whether and how justice is truly served.

This is an acutely painful time for our state and local communities, and for many of us within the College community as well. The jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin on all counts does not change the fact that George Floyd’s life was brutally taken. It cannot restore him to his family and friends. We acknowledge with deep anguish the terrible pattern of violence toward Black lives and other people of color at the hands of law enforcement. One verdict does not erase or solve this chronic problem. But hopefully it can be a step forward towards healing, reestablishing a measure of trust in the legal system, and spurring further needed change.

Carleton remains committed to racial equity, and we stand with our BIPOC community members and all those who call for a safer and more just society. We will continue the ongoing and urgent work of dismantling institutional racism on our campus, and each of us should also continue to reflect on how race, prejudice, and privilege shape our individual lives. Furthermore, as members of an educational community each of us can play an important role in seeking to understand the full dimensions of problems and then pursuing positive change in local, state, national, and global venues.   

Just as we have during other moments throughout this tumultuous year, we must continue to extend compassion, empathy, and support to each other. Please look out for one another, and take good care of yourself. Find safe ways to seek out community and know that kindness, listening, and understanding are fundamental ways we can aid in the grieving and healing process.

The Office of Intercultural Life (OIL) has a list of programs and opportunities available on campus to help understand and process the news of the trial and the upcoming anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.

As always, Carleton students are encouraged to take advantage of the many resources available to them, including through Student Health and Counseling, the Office of Intercultural Life, the Dean of Students Office, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, and the Chaplain’s Office.

Faculty and staff seeking assistance may access our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling and therapy through the Human Resources website or by calling 1-866-326-7194. EAP is confidential and available to family members living at your home. Carleton’s insurance provider, Health Partners, also has an EAP Racial Equity webpage to assist you with having sensitive discussions, being an advocate, and coping with stress about racism. Additionally, the Learning and Teaching Center has a blog post about Teaching in Troubled Times.

I urge everyone to seize this moment as an opportunity to reinforce and deepen the faith, trust, and goodwill we have in each other — and the grace we extend to each other. As Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison noted in his comments following the verdict this afternoon, we “continue the journey to transformation and justice.” Let’s keep moving forward together to create a better future for Carleton, the Twin Cities, Minnesota, the United States, and the world.