College Statement on Today’s Verdict, Social Justice and Racial Healing
A message from President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D, and College leadership on April 20, 2021.
Dear Merrimack College Community-
The past year has been challenging and difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a range of systemic problems and social and economic vulnerabilities, including health disparities, food insecurity, affordable housing, income inequality and gaps in access to quality education.
The tragic killing of George Floyd in May 2020 has further exposed systemic racism in our society, and has added a layer of anguish and anger to the suffering and frustration experienced by many members of ethnic, racial and other marginalized and underserved communities. George Floyd’s death, and the senseless deaths that followed, have ignited mass protests calling for change and accountability across our society.
This afternoon’s guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is a just and moral outcome for the killing of George Floyd. Our hearts and prayers are with George Floyd, his family and friends and all of those who have faced injustice and discrimination. Today’s verdict provides members of our community with the opportunity to support with passion and conviction those who have been historically harmed by racial prejudice, and to pledge our longstanding commitment to eradicate injustice everywhere.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed rising violence against Asian, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a dozen demoralizing mass shooting events and deaths, and continued tragic and senseless killings. The entire Merrimack community mourns the recent loss of lives, and stands in compassion and solidarity with the families and communities impacted by these tragedies.
The escalation in violence across the United States is a harsh reminder that the problems facing us do not have quick-fix solutions. These violent acts remind us how far we have to go, and how much work we must all do to change the trajectory of our society to make it more equitable, fair and just for all.
Merrimack’s Augustinian Catholic values, and unwavering determination to nurture a culturally and racially diverse community, anchored in justice and respect for all will continue to guide us as we come together to confront the challenges facing us. The College’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is now a pillar of our new five year strategic plan, the Agenda for the Future (AFF).
The College is planning two events as the spring semester comes to an end to address recent events and their implications for our ongoing DEI, and to inspire hope:
A virtual open forum on racial justice and other systemic problems will be held on Thursday, April 22, from noon-1 p.m. Zoom Link
An in-person socially distanced vigil will be held on Thursday, April 22, at 1:15 p.m. by the pond outside Palmisano Hall. The vigil is intended to bring together campus members to reflect on the tragedies, and collectively mourn the loss of so many people over the past year.
Additional forums will be scheduled over the summer.
We hope you will participate in one or more of these events over the next few weeks and into the summer.
Be safe, be well and look out for each other. God Bless.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
John “Sean” Condon, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Doggett, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Simona Sharoni, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion