Reflection on Injustice and Inequality and a Statement of Support for Marginalized Groups
June 5, 2020
Once again our nation must face the unjust killing of Black Americans by people ostensibly enforcing our laws. Rage and despair are natural reactions. So is fear, among those who see themselves or those close to them at risk of the same fate. It is easy, but necessary, to condemn racially motivated violence. We do so wholeheartedly. It is harder to effect real change, but we are committed to effecting real change.
The Department of Mathematics supports and stands by our students, staff, and faculty members from all groups that are marginalized in our society or in our institutions, because of race, identity, ethnicity, immigration, socioeconomic status, or any other reason, old or new. We strongly condemn and oppose all acts of bias, especially those involving violence.
The current pandemic reminds us that we all are vulnerable, sometimes in unforeseen ways. It also reminds us that vulnerability to disease is very unequally distributed among groups defined by race, ethnicity, employment, and socioeconomic status, and this forces us to see more clearly our society's systemic inequities and injustices. How can we improve our society? Choices we make outside our professional roles will be important; but as students and employees of a university committed to Ut Prosim, we have an opportunity to work every day to realize education's potential to increase mutual understanding and to expand equality of opportunity. Listening and learning will be important, not only to understand mathematics and how each of us engages with mathematics, but also to benefit from the full variety of perspectives and backgrounds present in our classrooms and throughout our university.
Because we see education as one of the prime ways to promote equality, we acknowledge our responsibility for making our community work better for each of its current and future members. Acknowledging that responsibility on a small scale is a first step towards discharging that responsibility on a larger scale. We are committed to avoiding and mitigating potentially marginalizing experiences for students in our mathematics classrooms and to promoting inclusive environments where everyone's ideas are valued.
The Math Department joins President Tim Sands and Vice-President Menah Pratt-Clarke in making a commitment to "work together to ensure that Virginia Tech becomes a model for a just and equitable learning community that prepares the next generation to lead in a new and better world." With suggestions and contributions from everyone we can succeed.
The statement by President Sands and Vice President Pratt-Clarke includes links to important resources.
Eric de Sturler, Department Chair
Peter Haskell, former Department Chair
Estrella Johnson, Director of Inclusion and Diversity, College of Science
Lizette Zietsman, Chair Inclusion and Diversity Committee
Department of Mathematics, Virginia Tech