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A Message of Support from Beth Muha and Mary Clark Email sent to American University Faculty & Staff

June 3, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The deaths in recent weeks of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery leave us heartbroken and enraged yet again over the persistent systemic racism and hatred in our country. It is even more difficult at a time we cannot be together in person as a community. Despite our distance, we stand in solidarity with our Black staff, faculty, students, and alumni. We want to stress the importance of taking care of ourselves as well as each other, as we try to cope with the emotional turmoil of ongoing racial trauma.

We ask managers to touch base with their staff, offer support, and keep communication open. This is a difficult period of anxiety, fatigue, frustration, anger, and despair. For our Black colleagues and colleagues of color, trying to go about living and working while experiencing these and many other emotions may be taking a toll. Staff who need some time off for self-care should work with their managers to take a sick day or some hours of sick leave, and we ask everyone to take steps to take care of yourself and each other. If you or members of your team are feeling overwhelmed, please take advantage of our campus resources such as the Faculty Staff Assistance Program and Kay Spiritual Life Center.

We ask faculty to consider the pain their Black students and students of color may be experiencing and support them through this time. CTRL has resources available for faculty to address racism in their classes and use antiracist teaching practices to foster a more inclusive classroom.  In addition CTRL will host a forum on recent events for faculty; they will send the details soon.

AU will continue to advance racial equity in an ongoing and systemic way as part of our Inclusive Excellence efforts.  In response to these most recent events, community members may join the Kay Spiritual Life Center on June 7th at 5pm EST for a service on white privilege and racism. Staff and faculty who are interested in learning more about race and racism may want to explore the new portal from the National Museum of African American History and Culture with tools for reflection and learning including resources for parents and caregivers.

This week is Staff Appreciation week, a time we honor the contributions of all our valued staff. This year, our week of celebration is also one of reflection and self-care. Let us take the time we need to process, and also to move forward as we continue our work towards a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist future for AU.

Beth Muha
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources

Mary Clark
Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty