Date: May 31, 2020
TO: THE NYU COMMUNITY
FROM: President Andrew Hamilton
Dear Members of the NYU Community,
Once again, we find ourselves filled with sorrow, outrage, and grief over a loss of yet another Black person's life at the hands of law enforcement that was tragic, unjust, and avoidable. There have been numerous appalling events over the last few weeks during an already difficult time—a pandemic. While it is hard to find words to describe the shocking ghastliness of the videoed last minutes of George Floyd's life on a Minneapolis street, with a police officer's knee on his neck, the poignant and unheeded pleas of Mr. Floyd and the bystanders—as in previous occurrences—remain haunting. His cries tear at our hearts, just as the knowledge that events like this seem to happen again and again and again rips not only at our conscience but at what we all consider to be a just and humane society.
This is one of those moments when reason and knowledge and discourse, which university citizens prize so highly, often doesn't seem like enough of a response. How could they be, when these deaths keep recurring, and when racism continues to manifest itself, even in our own community?
But reason, discourse, study, evidence, analysis—those are our tools, and events like the killing of George Floyd should not cause us to set them aside, but instead to redouble our exertions to use them in the cause of addressing racism, xenophobia, violence, and hate to underscore social justice, human dignity, inclusion, and peace. Many of our scholars already study the issues so evident in the Floyd video—inequality, race, and the inequities of the criminal justice system. Over the summer, I will be examining—and I am sure this will be true for many of you, too—how else our University might contribute to the goal of creating more just practices and systems. In the meantime, on behalf of the NYU community, I offer our University's sympathies to the family and loved ones of George Floyd, with whom we grieve for his lost life and the unspeakable suffering to which he was subjected, as well all of those impacted by this and the other terrible recent events. To deal with these types of issues while simultaneously navigating a pandemic that is giving rise to differential impacts on communities of color, and in particular, those of African descent, is especially oppressive.
Finally, my heart goes out to those in our own community who have been feeling overwhelmed by grief or apprehension because of fear for their own safety, their families, and loved ones. I want to remind you that NYU stands with you, and we have resources to help: for students at the Wellness Exchange, and for employees through Carebridge. And please also note that the Office of Global Inclusion (OGI) continues to plan events for the community.
In sorrow with you all,