Dear Florida State Students,
Our university has faced a number of challenges over the past few semesters and through them all, I've seen our students and community come together to support each other and work to make positive change. Over the past several months, we've been focused on responding to and making plans to manage the coronavirus. You have adapted to online courses and found creative ways to connect and create community. I know that it has been difficult and yet you mustered the strength to persevere.
And yet in the midst of all this, we have once again been faced with racialized violence that resulted in the horrific and unnecessary death of George Floyd. His final words have become a national cry for relief from the systemic racism that plagues our institutions. "I can’t breathe." The abuse of power that was captured on video is unfortunately not new. But it has highlighted, once again, the ways in which the system is unjust. Trust has eroded.
I am deeply committed to the Division of Student Affairs' goal of creating a more inclusive campus. As a white woman, I know that I have unearned privilege and I still have work to do to learn, unlearn, and best support our students of color and the LGBTQ community. I want you to know I am listening. I hear you. I am here to support you. I hear your questions surrounding the recent violence in Tallahassee and the misgendering of Tony McDade, your calls for transparency, and the hopelessness, anger, and sadness we feel when we hear another person of color was killed. I stand with our students of color, our LGBTQ community, and allies. I know that many of our students, alumni, and community members are peacefully protesting and I want to thank you for that. Additionally, for those who want to take action, in addition to peaceful protests, you can advocate for legislative and policy changes, vote in elections, donate money, continue to educate yourself, and speak out against racism whether on-campus or off.
I also want to acknowledge the many police officers who are committed to serving their communities with Courtesy, Compassion, Professionalism, Equal Treatment, Respect, and Responsible Law Enforcement. I hear their anger with the unnecessary loss of life at the hands of an officer and the disrespect these people bring to the profession. We must maintain high standards for those in positions of power and weed out those who cannot meet them.
I call upon the City of Tallahassee to work with Florida State University to ensure transparency, justice, and truth. I support our students in the creation of a community task force of local leaders to provide advice and guidance on these issues. That task force must include our students, as well as FAMU and TCC students. While that is just one step, President John Thrasher and I are committed to taking long-term, sustainable action to fully realize our goals.
I have been meeting with student leaders and will continue to do so. I want to hear from our students and what they'd like to see from Florida State University. In these conversations, I have been made aware of students' experiences with excessive force and racial profiling by local law enforcement and instances of racism on campus. A more formal way to report those incidents will be essential as we seek accountability and transparency. In the coming days, I'll be working with Student Government, the Black Student Union, Pride Student Union, and others to expand our conversations and come together in the community to create change.
While we may be physically distant during this time, you are not alone. If you are experiencing trauma or pain, please reach out. The following resources are available virtually:
- Counseling Services: https://counseling.fsu.edu
- Victims’ Advocate Program: https://dsst.fsu.edu/vap
- Case Management: https://dsst.fsu.edu/cms
- The Center for Leadership and Social Change: https://thecenter.fsu.edu
- The Interfaith Council: https://interfaithcouncil.fsu.edu
Please take care of yourself and know that FSU is here to support you.
Dr. Amy Hecht
Vice President for Student Affairs