In Defense of our Values of Equality and Inclusion

Sent Saturday, May 30, 2020

To the Campus Community:

In recent days, we have witnessed images of horror and sadness surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis – a tragedy made all the more painful by its similarity to occurrences involving matters related to race and the law in neighborhoods around the nation.

Our hearts are broken with sadness for Mr. Floyd’s family but our resolve is unbent. We have seen a number of reprehensible acts that, taken cumulatively, remind us that there are those who dehumanize our fellow Americans on the basis of such characteristics as their race, faith, sexual orientation, and gender identification.

There can be no equivocation on this matter:  We value the humanity of every individual from every background. Our country is based on the core principle that all people are created equal, and that our nation is indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We cannot turn a blind eye when our fellow Americans are denied those basic rights.

President Barack Obama paraphrased the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.” I believe those words to be true. We need to understand, however, that the direction of the arc does not guarantee the destination. Civil justice is not a promise. It is an outcome for which we must work unceasingly.

Standing up against racism is for each and every one of us to do. It is not a “Black issue.” It is a human issue that is the responsibility of all of us, particularly those who have not directly suffered the debilitating effects of racism.

This is the time to make the change that we need in the world. We can do so by voting, engaging in peaceful protest, and organizing our communities, among many other ways – including refusing to accept anything less than equality for all. As an academic community, it is incumbent for us to seek to understand and address the root causes of our prejudices. Rutgers has been a leader in this area, but there is much more to done.

Some of us may be struggling with anxiety and other emotions arising from this tragedy. The Student Wellness Center continues to offer counseling services for those students seeking support. Please visit the website for more information.

Our Rutgers University–Camden community draws strength from our shared values of inclusion, diversity, and respect. As we move through this pandemic and the sadness of events such as those unfolding across the country, please know that we are here to support each other, and that our campus’ commitment to prepare the next generation of civic leaders is more critically needed now than ever before.

Phoebe A. Haddon, J.D., LL.M.
Chancellor

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