Dear Members of the Logger Community,
As the weekend approaches, I am holding each and every one of you close in my thoughts and in my prayers as our nation and our university undertake the hard and important work of living up to our ideals. We are reminded—again and again—of how far we have to go.
I reached out to our students, faculty, and staff last Saturday night as images from protests around the country flooded every news channel. My intention in that moment was to offer hope, to share my fervent belief that we will realize a long-held dream for the United States of America—the long-held dream—of living in a country where true equity and justice are the birthright of all people, where no one lives in fear, is made to feel “less than,” or risks being killed simply for being who they are. A world where Black Lives Matter.
Over the past week, we have shed tears as we’ve watched the first of many services in remembrance of George Floyd. We’ve seen the devastation on the face of our Tacoma mayor as she shared the autopsy results for Manuel Ellis, yet another precious life lost while in police custody. The numbers of protesters continue to grow, making their voices heard, swelling the streets here in Tacoma and around the country. And we’ve watched as the coronavirus that has dominated the news has all but receded into the background as these new, even more powerful events have dominated not only the news cycles but our collective consciousness.
In these truly unprecedented times, I long to be in community with you. It has been difficult these past few months to be separated from each other by the global health crisis, not to be physically together in community, which is the very foundation of the residential liberal arts experience. We have had no opportunity to hold each other’s hands, to feel the comfort of a hug, to engage one another in conversations around a common table that gives us the space and time to process, to reflect, to grieve, to debate, and, indeed, to hope.
And yet this community prevails. We find a way. I was deeply moved by Wednesday night’s virtual teach-in, attended remotely by more than 500 members of our community across the country, organized by our colleagues in the Race and Pedagogy Institute (RPI), African American Studies Program, and other faculty, staff, students and community partners. It is a blessing for Puget Sound to be home to such a remarkable community of scholars who so generously share their knowledge, scholarship, and lived experience not just with our campus members but our broader community and neighbors.
I am particularly grateful to the leadership of RPI—and to its director, Dr. Dexter Gordon—for guiding the institute’s important work over two decades to enact societal transformation and eliminate racism. I believe in our commitment to access, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and our steady progress in becoming a powerful example of a learning community that reflects, celebrates, and is enriched by diversity in all its forms.
Perhaps most of all, I am inspired by our students who, along with friends and families, faculty and staff members, are organizing and participating in peaceful protests to make their voices heard on the streets of Tacoma and throughout the country. This is their generation, their time. I lament that this work falls upon their shoulders, even as I dare to believe that they are the ones we have been waiting for, the ones who will realize the vision toward which we have been moving all these many years.
We are living in extraordinary times. The Leadership for a Changing World plan that guides our priorities and reflects our values as an institution calls upon us to be in service to one another, to challenge and support our students as they become broadly and deeply educated lifelong learners, prepared to create and serve the future and become the world’s next generation of visionary leaders. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to serve this community, and for the contributions of our students, faculty, staff members, alumni, parents, trustees, donors, and friends. Thank you for being part of this community, for believing in this community, for learning and growing together.
Be safe. Be well. Believe.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President