Topics: President, Inclusive Excellence

April 20, 2021

This afternoon, the jury rendered a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer. Based upon the compelling evidence presented by the prosecutors, the jury concluded that Chauvin was guilty of all charges, including second-degree murder, in the killing of George Floyd.

I recognize that, over the past few weeks, many members of our University community have been anxious about the outcome of this trial. I also appreciate that, in many respects, this verdict is historic, particularly with respect to issues of policing and criminal justice in the United States. Time will tell whether this verdict will contribute to meaningful change in our country.

More personally, I cannot fully comprehend the impact that this trial and this verdict has had on many people, particularly members of our African American community. But I do know that Mr. Floyd’s murder, and other more recent events, continue to evoke feelings of anguish, fear, and frustration. Those feelings are genuine, and our students and our colleagues deserve our empathy and our support.

In that respect, our University provides resources that help members of our campus community process their response to these events. I encourage you to use, and to share, the following resources if you or someone else in our community needs assistance:

  • Students can seek mental health services by contacting our Counseling Center, which offers same day or next day virtual appointments. Students of color can also register to attend the upcoming April 22 virtual meeting of VOICES, our University’s bi-weekly race and ethnic support group.
  • Faculty and staff can take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program, which offers a network of services, including free counseling sessions and other self-help tools.

I have also asked my colleagues in the Office of Inclusive Excellence to coordinate with my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs to provide some additional resources, possibly including virtual events for faculty, staff, and students to continue to discuss the outcome of this criminal trial.

I anticipate that, in the days and weeks to come, some members of our campus community may want to express their continuing demands for racial and social justice. Every member of our University community has the right of freedom of expression.

But it is my expectation—indeed my fervent hope—that everyone will express their strongly held views peacefully. In that respect, let us follow the courageous lead of our students who organized a massive, yet peaceful march last June in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death.

No one can predict the ways in which the outcome of this trial will affect our country. But I do know that, at our University, no matter the national divisions, we will continue to strive—to work together—to create a more inclusive culture on our campus and in our community.

In doing so, we continue to live the enduring values articulated in our Beneficence Pledge. And we honor our commitment to provide everyone—all of our faculty, staff, students, and guests—with a safe and welcoming place to learn and to teach.

With compassion and respect,

      Geoffrey S. Mearns
    Ball State University