To the Pitzer Community:

The last couple of days have been difficult for us all. As an African American I have felt deeply each blow, each knee to the neck, each bullet that has extinguished the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters. I have spent my professional life trying to understand the sources of that violence, trying to develop policies and programs to address it. That we are beginning the third decade of the 21st century still mired in such pain and suffering is professionally a loss for me and a tragedy for our society. Before I could write you, I needed the time to personally and professionally digest these heinous acts that have brought pain and suffering not only to me, but to all who cherish social justice and equal protection under the law.

I read with pride and gratitude the statement from the Pitzer College Student Senate. It is an eloquent statement of “support and solidarity” to our community who cares deeply about the social responsibility and intercultural understanding mission of Pitzer. I join them in their support of all of you, especially our students, but also to our faculty and staff who have been equally affected by these events.

At Pitzer, our commitment to equity and inclusion runs deep and wide, yet, as in the wider society, we still come up short; we don’t have all the answers nor can we produce all the results we would like. Yet, as an educational institution we can continue the quest to better understand, to create more effective advocacy and to promote social change to address the violence and injustices suffered by the African American community and many other marginalized Americans.

To encourage and support such activities I will fund a Presidential Initiative for our faculty and student affairs staff to develop a set of curricular and co-curricular efforts that will address racial violence and injustice in the coming school year. I envision a range of courses, that could include ones that analyze the historical underpinnings of racial violence to courses on police-community relations in racially marginalized communities. Co-curricular activities might include forums that bring distinguished speakers and marginalized community members to campus to share their perspectives. What we do best at Pitzer College is take scholarship and community engagement and direct it at the most intractable of problems. Let us focus on this one, for it is truly a roadblock on our road to social justice.

Please take care and stay safe.

Melvin L. OIiver