Dear CSC Students,
This week I have been having a difficult time coming to grips with the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd. This is just the latest in a stream of tragedies that, to me, defy understanding.
By now we've all had the chance to read various people's thoughts about this. The Chancellor recently released a statement to the campus community on these issues (https://leadership.ncsu.edu/2020/05/31/grief-anger-and-needed-change/). That statement also references a statement from the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity (https://diversity.ncsu.edu/news/2020/05/30/statement-regarding-the-events-in-minneapolis/), which also points to the message from The Nubian that has specific suggestions (https://www.thenubianmessage.com/2020/05/29/staff-editorial-nubians-response-to-recent-events/). The Dean of the College of Engineering also recently shared with us a statement made by the Chancellor of UC Davis, Dr. Gary May, that I find powerful and moving: https://leadership.ucdavis.edu/news/messages/chancellor-messages/statement-on-george-floyd. I hope that you will take the time to read and reflect on these statements.
I know that I cannot fully appreciate, personally, how members of marginalized groups actually feel in the face of discrimination and oppression. But I am deeply saddened that any human beings should have to go through life in this country (or any other) fearing for their safety simply because they belong to a particular race, adhere to particular religious beliefs, espouse a particular gender identity, or differ along any of the many dimensions that differentiate us from one another, and that should really be sources of richness, not division. In writing this I mean to include all marginalized groups, but I think that it is eminently clear that in this country, over its history, African Americans have born the brunt of the discrimination and oppression that has occurred; it is these Americans who have suffered most egregiously from systemic racism. That is certainly evident in the stream of senseless killings that we have faced not only recently, but over decades. This has to stop. Black Lives Matter.
The faculty and staff of the Computer Science Department gathered yesterday to share their thoughts and feelings on these matters. We talked of many things, but I want to share with you just one particular statement that struck a chord with us. I can't quote it exactly, so this includes some paraphrasing:
When you hear family, friends, or anyone spewing hatred, hating someone because they are different, that's evil. If you are a lover of people, you need to speak out on this. We can't be silent any more. This is a moment in our nation. What kind of country do you want for your children? Have a decent respect for human life, regardless of whose life it is. There is no sitting on the fence on this.
We believe that it falls on all of us in the NCSU CSC community (faculty, staff, students, alumni) to do what we can to address systemic racism. This Department is committed to addressing this issue, and as a starting point we want to learn from you, our students, what your concerns are with respect to issues regarding systemic racism. We ask you to complete a brief survey, that has been emailed to each of you.
This survey is just a beginning. We will be taking action based on things that we learn from your comments. There is no sitting on the fence on this.
- Gregg Rothermel, Professor and Head, Department of Computer Science