A letter to College of Music students
This letter was e-mailed to all College of Music students on June 2, 2020.
Dear College of Music Students,
We write to you with tremendous sadness as well as with outrage. This past weekend of brutality and murder in Minnesota has brought forward yet again, the truth that there is deep and pervasive racism throughout American society that deeply stains our nation. The horrors of unspeakable violence, which has ended the lives of Black Americans most recently including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, is an ongoing tragedy that we must work together to overcome. Anguish and anger has been expressed at home and across the country, from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit to Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City. We feel this anguish and anger on the MSU campus as well.
We support the commentary provided by President Stanley and Interim Provost Sullivan who have spoken out about these atrocities with a commitment to acknowledge inequality on our campus with a pledge to address issues “well beyond words.” This surely extends to the MSU College of Music community and underscores our commitment and need to make decisions and take actions that move issues of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging forward in meaningful ways.
We join in solidarity with our Black and Brown students, staff, and faculty in the College of Music. We acknowledge the responsibility and the imperative to continue listening, learning, and taking action every day with the goals of fostering a greater sense of community, creating a more effective and equitable learning community, and extinguishing racism in our midst. We need to listen even more carefully to those members of our community whose experiences and perspectives are often so very different from those whose life experience has been grounded in white privilege. We must work together to end this senseless violence and to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
In this context, we will be returning to campus this fall in the midst of a pandemic that has created challenges to the ways in which we live, communicate, and make and learn about music. Plans are in place to welcome you and to provide a safe and productive Fall Semester. Our efforts to more effectively build an inclusive community will be a high priority as we move forward. You will be hearing further from us later in the summer with specific plans.
We wish you a safe, healthy and productive summer.
Rodney T. Whitaker
University Distinguished Professor
College of Music Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging