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We Stand Together: A Statement by Senior Leadership at the University of Denver

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Author(s)

Jeremy Haefner

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Dear DU Community,

We have all experienced moments in our lives that have changed us fundamentally. The recent events we’ve experienced as a community—the deaths of so many Black Americans at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect us—are disturbing and intolerable and call upon each one of us to reach deep down and ask, what more can I do? 

We have all been trying hard to process the recent spate of deaths: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and George Floyd, most at the hands of law enforcement. We watched in horror the systemic racism demonstrated by Amy Cooper in Central Park. We have also witnessed peaceful protests in Denver and around the country, as well as the damage and destruction that is happening in so many of our cities. It is clear that we are in a defining moment. Not only for our country and University but also for each of us individually. Now we have a choice to make—to stand as a diverse community in solidarity with all who are committed to end the continued violence against Black people, or to step aside and watch, as though some of us might actually have the choice to ignore these horrors in our midst. 

While we stare hard at the harrowing results of hundreds of years of systemic racism in this country, we are also confronting a global pandemic and the disparities that continue to be experienced by people of color because of the built-in inequities in so many of our systems. 

And the nature and types of racist actions and expressions just keep coming. Overnight the University was made aware of a deeply offensive photo that appeared on social media by a prospective student. Not only was the photo itself racist, it served as another stark reminder of the kind of issues faced by people of color in this country every day.

We will not tolerate this at the University of Denver. Whether microaggressions or full-throated assaults, no instance of racism or prejudice has any place here. The University has rescinded the student’s admission offer and they will not be attending DU.

For those of you who joined us in spirit at sunset this past Friday for a moment of silence to honor recent Black victims, thank you. But now we need to take more direct action. You will hear about several opportunities to get involved this week and beyond, including those sponsored by or promoted by the Community + Values initiative, IRISE, SOCA and CLIE, among others. 

We ask that each of us, regardless of our color or how we identify, consider how we can contribute to the healing and systemic change that must happen in our community and in our country. All of us have a part to play in taking tangible, ongoing actions to pave the way for dismantling systems of oppression. 

For those of us who are allies, let’s:

  • Listen. Whether directly or through social media, let’s really try to hear what minoritized people are saying, how they feel, what they need from us. What more can we be doing?
  • Learn. Through countless numbers of books, articles and other mediums, seek out historical and contemporary sources to get educated about the issues facing racially minoritized communities.
  • Lean in. Let’s support the work of those who are already committed to racial justice and find ways to join them in the fight. 

For those of us who are members of racially minoritized communities, let’s:

  • Come together in support of one another in ways that are affirming, restorative, strengthening.
  • Welcome the support of conscious and committed allies. 
  • Continue to care for and protect ourselves, our partners, our families and our friends. 

We all acknowledge this is not enough. More, much more must be done on our part. As we strive to contribute to the public good, we must embrace this moment to stand on the side of justice and hold ourselves accountable as we empathize with all victims of injustice. The time is now. The place is here. Let’s make this a time of true transformation for DU, and for one another. 

Sincerely,

Jeremy Haefner, chancellor
Ann Ayers, dean of the Colorado Women's College
Leslie Brunelli, senior vice chancellor for business and financial affairs
Paul Chan, vice chancellor for legal affairs & general counsel
Vivek Choudhury, dean of the Daniels College of Business
Karlton Creech, vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations
Don Harris, vice chancellor and chief information officer
J.B. Holston, dean of the Daniel F. Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science
Art Jones, interim vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion
Andrei Kutateladze, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Niki Latino, interim vice chancellor of campus life and inclusive excellence
Corinne Lengsfeld, interim provost and executive vice chancellor
Michael Levine-Clark, dean of University Libraries
Jerron Lowe, interim vice chancellor for human resources and inclusive community
Frederick "Fritz" Mayer, dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Michael McGuire, dean of University College
Daniel McIntosh, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Amanda Moore McBride, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work
Renea Morris, vice chancellor for marketing and communications
Nancy Nicely, senior vice chancellor and chief of staff
Valerie Otten, senior vice chancellor for university advancement
Karen Riley, dean of the Morgridge College of Education
Tom Romero, associate provost for inclusive excellence research and curricular initiatives
Bruce Smith, dean of the Sturm College of Law
Shelly Smith-Acuña, dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment