The Chauvin verdict: Davis Center gathering today—and the future

Williams students, faculty and staff,

I am writing in the aftermath of yesterday’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin case to mark the moment. The verdict brings some relief. It gives me a slender hope that we can make the transformations necessary to protect and support Black lives. But there is so much work to be done. Let us all commit to making this the beginning of real change.

Letters of this kind can do little to address centuries of racism in the United States. But as college president I reassert Williams’ commitment to fighting racism in all of its forms, and to offering support to members of our community who feel vulnerable—for whom the murders of George Floyd and others is part of a centuries-long history of being treated as undeserving of the rights and protections of citizenship, or of basic humanity.

For students, faculty and staff seeking support and community at this time, the Davis Center will host a Zoom gathering from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. today. As ever, staff members in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Davis Center, the Dean’s office, Integrative Wellbeing and the Chaplain’s office, among others, stand ready to offer additional resources to those who need or want them. The college is also continuing to build up internship opportunities in the Berkshires and beyond, through which students can join the struggle for social justice and against racism.

I hope to see many of you at today’s Davis Center conversation. As we experience this moment and try to envision a more just future, I will continue to focus on the question of how Williams can better equip faculty, students, staff and alumni to work for positive change in the fight for racial justice.