A message from President Craig Johnson
I assume you are all aware of the disturbing and tragic situation in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers and the ensuing protests and unrest going on in the Twin Cities. While our campuses are relatively distant and somewhat isolated from those events, we do not live in a vacuum. Many of you may have family and friends in the Twin Cities, and many of you have ties to law enforcement and communities of color. Our hearts go out to everyone involved, especially the family and friends of George Floyd and anyone else directly impacted by these events. This is a very painful moment for our entire state, with resulting trauma and grief that may last for years.
I imagine many of you are experiencing a range of emotions – including sadness, anger, and despair – stemming from the George Floyd incident and ongoing social unrest in the Twin Cities area. If you need support or someone to talk to, please turn to your family and friends, and remember that we have counselors available for our students and the Employee Assistance Program is available to our employees and their family members.
Given the increasing polarization in our society, it is possible in a situation like this to find ourselves developing blanket opinions of others, whether it is toward law enforcement or the people involved in the social unrest. Let’s each do our part to not lose sight of the human beings in every social group, and the fact that the vast majority of people are good people. We cannot condemn all police officers or law enforcement for the actions of individuals, and we can’t condemn everyone involved in the protests for the small percentage of individuals who are engaging in outright violence. At the same time, as a place of higher learning, we cannot ignore the social issues and challenges behind the fact that George Floyd died during a police arrest in Minneapolis, and hundreds of people in the Twin Cities are out in the streets expressing their outrage about our current social conditions.
While we cannot ignore the terrible facts of this situation, we can find a way to turn this tragic event into something positive by increasing our attention to civility and respect on our campuses and in our communities, and by doing our best to care for ourselves and every other person we encounter every day. The best path of action for our college community at this time may well be to embrace our mission to serve as a source of reason, acceptance, caring and learning in our communities to help make the world a better place, and to help every individual achieve a better life – especially for those who may feel like they have little hope for the future.
These are challenging times for all of us – be safe and stay strong.
President Craig Johnson