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The following message was sent to students and employees by Interim President Marcia J. White today:

There are two viruses impacting our nation today — one is novel and invisible, the other is violent and imbedded in the culture and history of our nation. The only way we have been able to fight COVID-19 is to distance ourselves physically from each other. The only way for us to battle the virus of systemic racism is for us to stand together with the values upon which our College was founded.

I cry for the many Black Americans who have died at the hands of injustice: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, and join the calls for accountability. I share the pain of our nation, while acknowledging that I can never fully know the mix of grief, frustration, and anger experienced by our students and employees who know racism in very personal ways. As I get more deeply involved in our Saint Rose community, I am impressed to learn about how passionately our students have used their voices, founding student groups like the Black Student Union and Spectrum, and encouraging deep discussions about race.

Yesterday, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the courageous founders of Saint Rose, issued a statement about George Floyd’s senseless death, and I join with them and ask that we unite as a Saint Rose community for racial justice in our nation.

Like our founders, “we are called to profound love of neighbor without distinction in a spirit of unity and reconciliation.” It is our obligation to not only care for each other, but to defend and uphold racial justice and reject racism and violence in all forms. The recent impact of the virus to a greater extent on communities of color has once again confronted us with the imbedded inequity in our country. We must be tireless in questioning the roots of this inequity, and close the equity gap through education and collective action.

Sister Teresa of Calcutta said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

I belong to Saint Rose, and as part of my presidency, I will work with students, faculty, staff, and administration to confront and address racism and bias on our own campus in all forms.

Even though we are physically distant from each other at this time, we belong to each other. As advocates and allies, we can defeat the virus of racism together and end the inequity that has plagued our nation for hundreds of years. Our students deserve a better world than the one they’re witnessing now.