Responding as a Community
A Message from President McInnis and Provost Goldbart
April 16, 2021
As our country awaits a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, we know that many in our community are on edge. Last summer, George Floyd's death elevated awareness of systemic racism and inequity in our country, and the need for policing and judicial reform. The past year has seen the expanded mobilization of a critical social movement demanding equality, accountability and a reevaluation of a judicial system that has a long history of inequitable outcomes. We have seen weeks and months of incredible grief, and moments of inspiring hope and action for broad cultural change. And yet, even as the trial comes to a close, we continue to witness examples of senseless harm, inhumanity and injustice. We understand the significance that this moment holds for our nation and for members of our community.
As an institution with an explicit commitment in our mission to diversity, it is incumbent upon us to name the important dimensions of this event and to support those who may be affected by the trial’s outcome. As a great public research university and academic medical center, we maintain a responsibility to foster an environment of critical thinking and care, and to prepare our students to become effective leaders who can address the challenges our society faces. We take seriously our charge to create opportunities to learn from these events and to engage with our community in contextualizing, understanding and strategically reacting to culture-defining moments such as this.
We encourage our community to respond with care, respect and civility. These values unify us and have provided common ground for Stony Brook University through the most difficult of times. They also provide us with the opportunity to understand historic and contemporary injustices and, importantly, to engage in the processes that facilitate positive and meaningful change.
Over the next week, we invite you to consider the following:
First, as conversations about the trial and systemic racism continue, we ask that you listen deeply to those you encounter with the intention of understanding. Students, faculty and staff may be feeling a range of emotions, including anger, fear, despair, weariness and loss of hope. While these conversations are necessary and a part of our collective dialogue, our individual emotional reactions are serious and real. A key part of listening for understanding is suspending judgment and creating a space to learn from each other.
Second, we ask you to access the resources needed to take care of yourselves and each other. At the end of this message we have compiled some resources to draw on now, as we have in other challenging times.
We take heart in the leadership that so many of you have exemplified to make progress at Stony Brook. Our campus law enforcement professionals have been pacesetters, reinforcing their mission to protect and serve our community by embracing reforms well ahead of many agencies. Our Campus Community Personal Safety Advisory Committee has worked to draw our University Police Department and the community more closely together, and has provided a framework for cooperation around issues of public and personal safety.
On Monday, leaders from Academic and Student Affairs, Human Resource Services, and the University Hospital will follow up with more specific guidance and programs to help us navigate the events of next week. In the meantime, if you need support or are seeking resources to respond effectively, please consider the options following this message.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of this trial or the reaction of the nation. While we know that one event will never fully define our struggle as a country nor determine our progress toward a more perfect union, we will take this moment to learn, push for change, and support each other as a community.
Governing Body for Stony Brook Medicine
Executive Vice President and University Provost
Mental Health Resources
Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) 631.632.6720 (24/7 hotline)
For Hospital Staff:
Resident and Fellows Assistant Program/516.510.3167
Spiritual Care Hotline/631.559.6211
Faculty and Staff Care Team/631.372.3119
University Support in Student Affairs
University Support in Academic Affairs
Support in Human Resources