Dear Carolina Community,
Last Friday on a historic day for our University, I joined a joyful crowd in the Student Union auditorium to celebrate the renaming of two campus buildings for Henry Owl and Professor Hortense McClinton, heroes for bringing Carolina closer to its ideals. Our history is full of hard-won battles to make this University live up to the American creed of E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one.
Yet over the weekend, the horrifying attack against innocent people in Buffalo, New York, alongside other shootings and acts of violence across the country, ripped at the heart of that ideal. We felt grief and loss, and the sense of awful repetition in these acts of hatred. As Dr. Leah Cox, Carolina’s Chief Diversity Officer, wrote earlier this week, “These horrendous acts of terror cause grief, anger and frustration, which can seem overwhelming. I encourage you to reach out to those in your life to check in on them and to ask how they are doing.”
We are not powerless in these moments. At Carolina, there are researchers working every day to understand what drives radicalizing hatred and how we can stop it. There are social workers and psychologists working to understand trauma and how we can heal from it. There are historians and political scientists adding context to the challenges we confront.
At its best, this University can be a beacon of truth and understanding in a world that needs much more of both. The most important thing we can do, in our daily lives and in the way we build community together, is demonstrate that people of different backgrounds and beliefs can live and work side by side. We can prove, every day, that a community of great diversity is a community of great strength.
On Monday, May 23, at 5:30 p.m., the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Carolina Black Caucus will host a moment of reflection in the Pit, and I encourage you to join that event.
A university must be a hopeful institution, committed to the idea that progress is possible if we stay true to our mission and devoted to our work. I know you share the vision with me, and I am grateful for your hard work for our University and our country.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz