This piece reflects the views of the ASUO Executive, and not those of Emerald Media Group. The Emerald has lightly edited this letter for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black individuals, since the founding of this nation, have been forced to endure systematic racism, exclusion, surveillance and violence. We saw this in George Floyd’s murder, and we are seeing it across the country. The current atmosphere within the University of Oregon, Eugene and America is void of pride and justly filled with anger, fear and disgust. All of these emotions can negatively impact students’ mental health on a substantial level, especially students of color. As a university we have an obligation to respond to the feelings and actions being expressed within the community. And, at the moment, our Black community is expressing an urgent need for solidarity during these times of extreme injustice.
Along with the many images of protest we have seen over the past week in response to the murder of George Floyd, we have seen an increasing number of posts, videos, pictures and stories of violence and arrests of predominantly Black Folk. Along with this, Black Folk have been targets of increasingly racist and violent threats and actions, carrying with them an increased police presence within Eugene and around the country. This can trigger immense fear for many individuals, which only adds to the stress and anguish caused by the previously mentioned horrendous threats and actions. In addition, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Mental health resources have withered because of current social distancing practices; individuals are unable to express their emotions and fears in a professional manner to the extent they could only a few brief months ago.
Because of this unprecedented influx of stress and emotionally harming events, we are calling upon professors and course instructors alike to either cancel or make their finals non-grade diminishing. Black students and students of color are undergoing emotions and stress that white individuals simply cannot imagine. It is during these types of times in which we must come together as a university, and as a community, to protect the emotional well-being of our Black students and students of color. They have gone through enough. This is why we are strongly encouraging professors and course instructors alike to take our call to heart. We would also like to encourage professors and course instructors to create a more open dialogue between them and their students of color to ensure that their needs and emotions are being heard and acted upon.
We want to ensure that this open letter and its pith is reverberated across campus. To do so effectively requires multiple steps.
First, spread this open letter on social media and to your friends and peers.
Second, start a dialogue in any student groups or organizations you are a part of; a large part of this call is to encourage all to empathize with the communities struggling the most right now.
Third, if you are a professor or instructor, communicate this message with your co-workers and discuss how this can be applied to your current courses.
Signed, The ASUO Executive
The Associated Students of the University of Oregon Executive includes President Isaiah Boyd, Vice President Semeredin Kundin and Chief of Staff Nathaniel Leof, all of whom the student body voted in as part of the Ducks for Change slate. This letter has been lightly edited for grammar and style.