Dear Members of the Yale Community,
George Floyd’s murder was an indictment of our nation’s failure to address anti-Black violence and racism, but today’s verdict was a positive step forward for our country. I am relieved that a jury of Derek Chauvin’s peers found him guilty of George Floyd’s murder, but I am no less heartbroken over the number of Black lives that have been cut short due to police violence. We must continue to focus our energy on addressing racism, injustice, and abuse of power by the police and others in positions of public trust and authority.
As an institution with a mission to improve the world, this university has a responsibility to find solutions to this crisis. At Yale, we are taking actions across multiple fronts. Faculty from many parts of the university are conducting research and shaping new teaching in fields that address racism and policing. Hubs of innovative scholarship and education in this area include the Department of African American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory, and the Center for Policing Equity. Their scholarly activities bring understanding to the current crisis and inform national policies and discussions.
We are reassessing and reshaping major aspects of policing on campus based on the 21CP Solutions report, “An Assessment of the Yale Police Department,” and on the input of students, faculty, staff, and New Haven community members. A key strategic priority is to assign the right resources to public safety needs. In situations that do not require a police response, we will expand the use of unarmed security personnel and enhance coordination with student life and Yale Health resources.
Antiracism is also at the heart of the university’s Belonging at Yale initiative. In October, for the second phase of this initiative, I launched new programs that delve into our history and support members of the university community. Our project on Yale’s historic entanglements and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition, led by Professor David Blight and the Gilder Lehrman Center, is making progress, with a committed team of scholars and student researchers gathering valuable information from our archives and other sources. Moreover, each school and administrative division at Yale is developing a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging plan that proposes actions to address the needs of historically underrepresented staff, faculty, students, and alumni. Planning together will allow us to align work across the institution and to track progress.
In addition to our studies, research, scholarship, practice, and university operations, people across Yale are galvanizing community-led efforts to shed light on difficult truths, build solidarity, and heal the rifts in our society. Many of Yale’s campus organizations have created forums for critical dialogue, connection, and learning, including cultural centers, affinity groups, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Yale Alumni Association. We also are working with partners in our home city and with alumni communities across the country and around the world to share our time and resources with the people who need both during this difficult period.
Over the coming days, we will hold forums for discussion, learning, and healing. Yale also is providing resources for those in our community who need support. Information is available at the Belonging at Yale website and will be updated regularly as students, faculty, and staff continue to organize community gatherings.
Today’s verdict ensures that a former police officer has been brought to justice, but we have far to go in achieving liberty and justice for all in our nation. We must continue to take action to improve society, so that all of us can live securely and safely. I approach our ongoing work with hope because of the powerful reckoning that has taken place on individual and global scales over the past year. We will build on this energy and remember Mr. Floyd and other victims of racist violence.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology