A Message to Our Community on Recent Events
June 2, 2020
Dear Merrimack College Community,
In the past three months, across the United States and the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges and uncertainty for us all. While we have all felt the impact of COVID-19, the reality is the effects of COVID-19 are but another example of how some communities – especially those in lower socio-economic and minority communities, are adversely affected because of where they live or who they are. The societal disparities these communities address every day are exacerbated by this virus, and by yet another set of clear and senseless actions such as the death of George Floyd. The pandemic and the too-long list of recent victims of racism and injustice have come together to represent more than just disparate events in history, they are the once in a generation breaking points that have led to massive peaceful protests calling for justice and equality and the end of discrimination, the elimination of income disparity and for social justice.
The peaceful demonstrations and the sometimes aggressive protests that are sweeping across our country are no longer limited to faraway cities or towns, they are in our communities and they are reminding all of us of the deep wounds that run through our communities from years of inequality and injustice. These recent events should outrage us to take action, make us look in the mirror and call us to do more to solve these problems, and address our collective concerns as a community. Deeply rooted problems such as these require us all to listen and challenge ourselves. To do so we need leadership that brings people together to face the challenges we have and move forward with greater appreciation for each other. The leadership of divisiveness, hatred and bigotry achieves the exact opposite and can never be tolerated or ignored. Nor can we meet that type of leadership with violence, it will only dissipate the message of hope and change.
These past few weeks show us that there is much more work to be done to eliminate the scourge of injustice and inequality. Merrimack College is dedicated to its founding values of teaching, learning and serving – which includes equality, inclusion, education and discovery for all. It is our duty, as an institution of higher learning, to ask ourselves how will we make the world a better place and how will we better the lives of others. To do this, we must listen. We must learn. We must pursue progress. And most of all, we must open our hearts and minds. I am very proud of the progress Merrimack College has made towards making a difference in our community and our world, but we have much more to do and more people to serve.
We all have the basic rights endowed upon us in the Constitution, including the right to peacefully protest and the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But sometimes those rights are not used to help others. I encourage all of our community members to peacefully protest, to stand up against injustice and inequality and to be heard. You have a responsibility as Merrimack College community members to speak out when you witness something that is wrong and to get involved, to activate, to organize and to vote. Real change comes not from simply watching but by organizing, acting and voting for what you believe in and participating in our democracy. The future is now in the hands of the rising generations. What this past week has shown us is that the rising generations now want a voice, a voice that is educated, inclusive, just and very capable. Because of this, I know our future is bright, but this moment will be difficult. I encourage everyone not to lose hope, we know the vast majority of our country has good leaders, good police officers, good protesters and good citizens who love their neighbors and their country. This time requires this majority to do more and to look out for others and to get more involved.
As we look to reopen our campus in the fall, we will do so with open hearts, open minds and open arms. We will not tolerate hate, violence, racial injustice or inequality. Our unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusivity and the rights of others is fundamental to who we are. We must work together to create a world where each of us can live in peace, kindness and safety.
Be safe, be well and look out for each other. God Bless.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.