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Message from the Student Assembly

May 31, 2020 | Great Allies Act, but the Best Listen and Empower

Dear William & Mary,

We are writing to you during an immensely emotionally challenging time during an already difficult summer, as we still respond to the effects of the pandemic.

We are outraged and devastated by the tragic murder that took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, resulting in the death of George Floyd. This horrific act by Officer Dereck Chauvin and his colleagues is an unsettling reminder for Black people in this country: their humanity is still criminalized. This is a familiar pain, as the Black community is still reeling over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor and has mourned countless Black people and people of color due to COVID-19. We must all remember that this is not an isolated incident, but a systemic problem throughout the criminal justice system of the United States. Criminality is still determined by skin color.

The greatest value of our community is how we always rally around one another when times are hard, a value that we should wholly embrace now. Most importantly, check on a friend. Ask them how they’re doing. Reconnect over facetime and vent. Listen. Tell them that you love them. This is an emotionally hard time right now. Watching the video is traumatic alone. Try to ascertain how Black people are feeling. Trying to understand and spreading that understanding is the most important cause we have in order to achieve actual change.

This is a time for intense allyship. It is in these collegiate crucibles students have the agency to challenge societal and structural norms, engaging in constructive discourse that makes tangible changes. We are presented with a unique opportunity to raise awareness towards and break down systemic disadvantages at this university, providing a model for other collegiate communities across this nation. William & Mary is ours to experiment with and we encourage you to continue to be vocal. The conversation starts now. And remember, conversations demand that we listen with intent to understand and help change, not just to respond.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay resilient.

AJ, Kyle, & Loni
The Executive Branch of the Student Assembly

"If indeed all lives mattered, we would not need to emphatically proclaim that 'Black Lives Matter.'" – Angela Davis