Grad School Statement on Social Unrest, Racism, and Inequality

Shared first via email on June 5, 2020

Hello Graduate Students, Post-doctorates, Faculty and Staff,

We have recently witnessed a number of events that have emphasized the realities of racism deeply engrained in our society. Most recently, appalling murders add to a long list of violent injustices against Black families that stem from systemic oppression, bias, anti-Blackness, and unnecessary fear. These ugly and horrific injustices are unacceptable and must stop.

The Graduate School is united with President Joyce McConnell in her condemnation of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders, and we share her commitment to being anti-hate, anti-bias, and anti-racist. During this difficult time we also emphasize the value of and our commitment to our Principles of Community, with a particular focus on equity, inclusion, and social justice. As written by our Office of the Vice President for Diversity Black Rams Matter, we stand as allies in solidarity with our black community.

The primary mission of the Graduate School is to ensure and support the highest quality education and training of CSU graduate students. And let’s be honest – the majority of the Graduate School community are White, and because of this Whiteness, most of you have been given the privilege to not have negative assumptions and opinions made about the content of your character. Your Whiteness can be a powerful tool for change when you speak up and out against acts of racism. Thus, it is incumbent on the Graduate School to educate and empower all Graduate students, faculty, and staff, and particularly those with privilege, to learn how to be anti-racist and become supportive allies of the Black community.

This message is a call to action to ourselves as educators and to you, as a white privileged student: we must take action to educate ourselves on the realities of racism, the struggles of our Black community, and how we can best support them as allies. The Graduate School commits to developing resources to share with you, so that we may learn together. Our whole Graduate School team also commits to reading and discussing the below resources and actions. As a start, here are a few links to resources that will help you empathize and take actions towards becoming an ally and an anti-racist:

If you’re looking for ways to make a lasting impact on our community, please consider:

  • Register to vote in your state, and educate yourselves on the candidates and the issues that will be on the ballot at all levels of government.
  • Complete the 2020 Census.
  • Push past the headlines, and do research on the issues that plague Black people in America historically and in the present day.
  • For students and other lifelong learners, consider taking a course at CSU in ethnic studies during the upcoming academic year (you can do it virtually).
  • Support Black-owned Businesses in your area or online.
  • Participate in the growing Blackout Week initiative happening in July 2020.
  • Practice self-care as needed.
  • Check-in on your family and friends, especially those who may have fewer opportunities to talk with others.
  • Participate in digital events and discussions from around the country that are supporting Black causes and speaking out against social injustice.
  • Develop a reading book list of pertinent African American writers, and have your book club read and discuss them.

Students, words of support can be hollow. It’s time to take action. Be an ally and commit to being an anti-racist. And as always, please take care of yourselves and each other, and let us know how the Graduate School can best support you.


Michelle Foster
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Graduate School

Greg Florant
Director, Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring, Graduate School

Mary Stromberger
Dean and Vice Provost of Graduate Affairs, Graduate School