NERS DEI Town Hall

We have watched in horror the recent events involving the killings of unarmed black and brown people by the police. The trial of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor’s killing, and now the recent killing of Daunte Wright, highlight the scale of the problem. Whether intentional, or due to bad training, or simply wanton negligence, these sad and tragic events are unacceptable and we deplore them.

We want you to know that you do not walk alone in the angst and anxiety that some of you may be experiencing in response to this ongoing social tragedy—the same old, sad story seemingly is being played over and over again—with the same tragic ending. At this moment in time, we are hopeful that change is coming. That old story must end and give birth to a new one, one that Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed about, one where hope is tangibly realized.

We want you to know that we are here to support you through these trying times and that our doors, physically and virtually, are open to talk. You are not going through this alone. We are there for you. We offer this town hall as an open forum for you, an opportunity to openly discuss these matters or any matters that concern you at the moment, for example, the horrible gun violence and mass shootings that are now becoming so commonplace, senselessly and tragically taking victims.

These are trying times, a period where societal forces are tearing at the very fabric of the country—yes change is coming —good change. We are here to talk about the “now” and the future, and how we can make our department a better and more welcoming place as we crawl out of the despair wrought upon us by the pandemic as well—yet another tragedy that highlights racial inequities in our society and along with this anti-Asian violence. So as scientists and engineers, we welcome you in fellowship to commune, discuss what’s on your mind and pose solutions to these trying problems.

At the end of the day, you all will forge the future. The future’s still bright—we just have to get there by acknowledging the social injustices of the present and dispelling them from the future—and we can only do that by walking together.

—Professors Carolyn Kuranz and John Foster, April 21, 2021

The DEI Town Hall was held on Friday, April 23, 2021.