June 2, 2020

A Message to Students from Salvador B. Mena, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Rutgers University—New Brunswick:

Dear Scarlet Knights:

I’m writing to you today to acknowledge the protests that you’ve been seeing around the country and world following the death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This incomprehensible, inhumane incident and numerous many others like it before have fueled feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, sadness, hopelessness, fear, trauma, and exhaustion in our students and community. These unjust acts of police brutality and the dehumanization of marginalized communities have continued to plague this country.

As a university community, we must collectively recognize the heavy emotional and psychological toll this takes on all of us, especially on our Black students, staff, and faculty. We must condemn these acts of violence, anti-Blackness history as a nation, systemic racism, and all forms of interpersonal and structural oppression. As Scarlet Knights, our commitment to our values of inclusion, equity, and respect for all human dignity reminds us that we have both a collective and individual responsibility to each other in responding to these injustices and that it is more important now than ever before for each of us to engage with one another in meaningful ways. I hope you will do your part, as I will do mine, in reaching out to one another, checking in, and lending support.

Please know that we are thinking of you, we are here for you, and we encourage you to seek us out to talk and process what is happening. In the days ahead, you will hear directly from CAPS, Cultural Center Collaborative, Student Centers and Activities, and Dean of Students Office offering support and opportunities for engagement. Please do not hesitate to ask for help for both yourself and other students struggling and to get involved.

In closing, the last several months have been trying – mind, body, and soul – as we deal with a global pandemic and the tragedies involving George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I am sure of the potential we all hold for making a positive difference in the world by standing together in solidarity.

With you in mind,

Salvador B. Mena, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Rutgers University–New Brunswick