Dean Responds to Racist Emails

May 4, 2022

Dear CNS Community,

Last evening, we became aware that racist emails were again sent to Black members of our campus community. We write to express our anger, frustration and intolerance for this hateful action and for the harm it has caused to the Black members of our campus community. We condemn the sentiments expressed in that email and fully support the Chancellor’s efforts to identify and hold accountable those responsible.

To the Black members of CNS: these overt and repeated attempts by some to marginalize you are antithetical to the high esteem in which we hold you and to the respect that you deserve as valued members of our college. We understand that these emails exemplify but do not wholly encompass the racism you face on our campus. Closing the gap that exists between what you experience and what we aspire to create must be our highest priority.

We celebrate the many ways in which you contribute to the mission of our college, the excellence that you bring to our campus through your talents and passions, and your many accomplishments despite the adversity that you unjustly face. Next week, Black CNS students will earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. Black CNS students will spend this summer working in our research and outreach programs, engaging in internships, and working in healthcare. Black CNS alumni have gone on to medical school, Master’s and doctoral programs, and careers in industry and service. Black CNS faculty are nationally and globally recognized for their expertise. Black CNS staff excel as contributors to our mission and are role models for the entire campus. Next semester, we will be thrilled to welcome new Black students to the CNS community to continue this proud tradition.

To the other members of our community: identifying those responsible for these horrible emails is not enough; we must all increase our awareness of structural racism and barriers to belonging and actively work to dismantle them. We must listen to those who are repeatedly harmed by our actions or inactions, commit to each doing our part to drive change, hold one another accountable to our shared values, and work to become an explicitly antiracist institution. There are many ongoing initiatives in CNS, in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, in the Center for Racial Justice and in the network of Climate Advisory Committees throughout the college that would benefit from more engagement. If you have not yet participated, now is the time to not only act but to also commit to the sustained effort necessary to evoke real change to clearly express our solidarity with and support for the Black members of our campus community.

For anyone in need of support, we share the following resources:

Dean of Students Office
CNS Undergraduate Advising Center
CNS Office of Student Success and Diversity
Graduate School
Center for Counseling and Psychological Health
Employee Counseling and Consultation Office
Office of Equity and Inclusion
Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success
Student Legal Services

We also encourage you to contact us directly with requests for support and ideas to advance these goals. Every step we take moves us toward a campus environment that reflects our values.

CNS has always been a community dedicated to creating opportunity for all, and these acts of racism remind us of the significant work remaining to be done. The responsibility for realizing our aspirations must be owned by each one of us. We urge you to join us in this work.

Tricia Serio, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences
Jody Jellison, Director of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment
Melishia Santiago, CNS Director of the Office of Student Success and Diversity
Linda Ziegenbein, CNS Academic and Diversity Advisor
Karen Helfer, CNS Associate Dean of Graduate, Postdoctoral, and Faculty Development
Peter L. Holden, CNS Associate Dean for Administration, Finance and Operations
Mark Tuominen, CNS Associate Dean of Research and Innovation
Leo Hwang, CNS Assistant Academic Dean
Karen Whelan-Berry, CNS Director Faculty Development and Programs
Elizabeth A. Connor, CNS Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education
Samantha Weaver, CNS Director of Human Resources

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