Nebraska Wesleyan University President Darrin Good issued this statement on nationwide unrest following the George Floyd tragedy.
Let Love Overwhelm Fear at NWU and Everywhere — June 1, 2020
Dear Nebraska Wesleyan Community,
I feel moved to convey to you personally and as President of Nebraska Wesleyan University my condemnation of the actions of the four Minneapolis police officers who senselessly and needlessly ended the life of George Floyd. This is yet another racist act of violence that has highlighted the deep-seated fears that exist in the Black community. As we have all been witnessing, this has been a tipping point igniting protests and calls for action.
Each individual on this earth is unique, special and deserving of human rights as well as human dignity. This is what we believe at our University and what we teach in and outside the classrooms. I promise to you that we will continue to be an institution that champions diversity, equity and inclusion in our actions, our policies and our moral ethos. We abhor the toxic effects of generations of systemic racism in the United States and the dangerous effects of individuals in positions of power making decisions based upon stereotypes and prejudices.
In our pain and anger, we must be careful not to not fall into the same trap of simplistic thinking by stereotyping police officers. We proudly recognize among our NWU alumni, friends and family members many police officers who are fair-minded and humane. We should not categorize all police officers based upon the horrific and indefensible behavior of a few. Rather, Nebraska Wesleyan can and will continue to be a thoughtful institution where we learn about systemic prejudice, abuse of power and social justice. It is my hope that Nebraska Wesleyan University will not simply acknowledge the work we must do to move toward implementing and upholding anti-racist policies and practices within our own institution, but be a source of change to the world, the nation and our local communities.
I do not want to silence voices. That is not my intent. I support non-violent protests. However, what we are witnessing across the nation and in our backyards in Lincoln and Omaha exemplifies that violence and looting are not the answers to this problem; love, education and working together are the tools for the necessary path forward. We need to understand how and why we arrived at this point and how we begin to make reparations.
We each have unconscious biases that must be kept in check through policies and practices that can work to mitigate and reduce the impact of these biases. As a community of scholars and humanitarians, Nebraska Wesleyan must continue being a place where we intentionally work to change systemic problems in our society including law enforcement structures that allow “bad cops” to remain and even be promoted to positions of power within those police forces.
Numerous times since I have been a member of this wonderful University, I have shared my deeply held personal and professional commitment to create an environment rooted in celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion. We must now redouble our efforts and pledge that Nebraska Wesleyan will be a campus that does more than simply create a “welcoming environment” for individuals from underrepresented groups; rather we must create a community where every individual feels that they belong and are valued. I invite each of you to look into your heart and your mind and imagine how you can do more and be better as a person. Join me in being an agent of change to create a Nebraska Wesleyan that truly lives out our values.
In 1913 Mohandas Gandhi wrote: “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” We, therefore, must be the change we want to see in the world. Let’s start working with love on that change by discussing as a Nebraska Wesleyan community how we envision that change.
In Community With You,