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Central Washington University

Statement from President Gaudino: Addressing the Nation's Unrest

Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear CWU Students,
 
My heart is heavy with sadness, regret, shame, and anger. I know that you are experiencing a mixture of emotions as you grapple with the crises befalling our society.CWU logo
 
The merciless killing of George Floyd has again exposed the magnitude of the injustice and inequality present in our country. The protests remind us that inequality exists not only in our system of justice, but also in economic opportunities, finance and banking, health care, and yes, in education.
 
Righteous anger and frustration are again spilling into the streets, as they did in 1965 in Watts, decades before even most of your parents were born. The emotions we feel in the killing of Mr. Floyd should be magnified by the knowledge that, at the basic levels of society, we have not progressed 55 years later.
 
In recent years CWU has grown to be the most diverse regional university in the state. We have endeavored to hire diverse faculty and staff. We wear this mantle as a point of pride, making it all the more imperative for our University to listen closer, talk more and take substantive action to institute meaningful change on our campuses and in our classrooms and our communities.
 
For all that we have tried to do, is it enough? The answer is emphatically, no. We must demand renewed intentionality to challenge our past, assess the present, and build a more inclusive university. I pledge to you that Central will continue to strive to ensure a learning and living environment that is physically, intellectually, and emotionally safe for all. We want you to know you belong here, regardless of any characteristic others might use to define and marginalize you.
 
To our students, faculty, and staff of color, I recognize that even the simplest choices you make in a day – to take a walk, to sit in your car catching the end of a broadcast, to speak your mind – can lead to a humiliating if not life-threatening experience. I cannot feel your pain, but I can stand by you. I will support you. I will push all to do better.
 
Our goal should not be to get through this difficult time and return to normal. Normal is what got us here, and it will do so again if we do not demand change. In 2020 and beyond, Central must redouble its efforts to offer a learning and living environment that is physically, intellectually, and emotionally safe for all. You must feel that you belong here. Your presence and your perspectives broaden our comprehension of the world and elevate our experiences. I will work hand in hand with you, seek your candid counsel, and accept your evaluation of my efforts.
 
In closing, I want to join with you to convey my most profound respect and condolences to the grieving family of George Floyd, and to the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
 
And to those of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland, and Tamir Rice and…too, too many others.
 
#CWUTogether
 CWU President Gaudino's signature
James L. Gaudino
President

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