George Floyd and Accreditation

June 4, 2020

We typically think of history as something that happens in other places, in other times, to other people.  We live in the present, not in history.  Yet there are times when the present becomes history, there are moments that are truly historical in that the choices made at those moments will determine the future direction of a community, a nation, the world.  We are in one of those moments, and the last week in the United States is a moment that calls upon us all to make a choice and to make that choice clear. 

WSCUC is an accreditation agency, and what does the death of George Floyd have to do with what we do?  Everything.  The United States has built the strongest system of higher education in the world because we stand for certain values.  Academic freedom is the inside term for that value, but academic freedom only makes sense when nested in—supported by but also supporting—a broader set of freedoms: the freedom to protest, the freedom to question, the freedom to speak, the freedom to walk down the street, the freedom not to be killed by a policeman for no justifiable reason.  The events of this week remind us that the freedoms we celebrate are freedoms that can’t be taken for granted, freedoms that sometimes need to be fought for, and most importantly and tragically, freedoms that not all Americans can take for granted.  We owe it to the African-American community, to all they have contributed to American history and culture, to all they have suffered in the past 401 years in this country, to stand with them now and in the future.  Black lives matter. 

So the task that faces us in higher education, as more broadly in the country as a whole, is simultaneously to celebrate and defend the freedoms that we have and to engage in the critique of our own record in extending those freedoms and their benefits to all.  To celebrate and critique at the same time—this is complicated and hard.  Far easier to settle with simple slogans and simple answers.  But the world is not a simple place.

WSCUC is a community of nearly 200 institutions of higher education, and many of the leaders of those institutions have raised their own voices in this moment.  We thought we might help the dialogue that all of us need to have—in our consciences, in our homes, in our classrooms, on our campuses, in our society—to link you to some of those statements.  Here are some of what our leaders are saying and thinking at this somber moment in our history. Presidents/CEOs interested in adding their statements to this list, please send a link to vipsupport [at] wscuc.org.

 

Pomona College
"After a sickening, brutal, act in a long line of injustices, we see people tenaciously and peacefully standing up for change... It is time to look unflinchingly at what stares us in the face: racism; hatred; fear; depravity"  —President Starr. Read more: A Message to Our Community After the Death of George Floyd

Humboldt State University
"We must work together to continue asking the hard questions and producing answers that may be difficult for those in power or positions of privilege to accept." —President Jackson. Read more: Standing Together in Solidarity

University of West Los Angeles
"Whenever one segment of our society oppresses and enslaves another, spiritually, mentally or physically, the human spirit can accept but so much before it is going to cry out and demand change." —President Brown. Read more: Memo from the President

San Jose State University
"Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have had to write a message to our campus regarding racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant attacks, anti-Muslim attacks or, most recently, anti-Asian, xenophobic attacks related to COVID-19." —President Papazian. Read more: Call for Community in Light of Recent Racist Attacks Against African-Americans

San Diego State University
"I will never, ever, stand down in my assertion that we must each condemn the systemic racism that both enables and protects these vile acts of violence and disregard for human life." —President de la Torre. Read more: Message about George Floyd

California State University, Monterey Bay
“In this disturbing landscape, I turn to our university community as the arena in which, and from which, we can fight to counter these forces of darkness. We will do this by deepening our commitment to our values of respect, inclusion, and empathy.” —President Ochoa. Read more: Message about George Floyd

Ashford University
“We share an obligation as educators, learners, and citizens to take action. We must speak out against injustice and seek through the guarantees available to us as a free people, to bring about the change that will result in achieving our dream of a free and just society.”—President Swenson. Read more: Message from Ashford University President

Azusa Pacific University
"Although the most recent tragedies unfolded in Minnesota and Georgia, that pain is demonstrably felt across this nation and throughout our University Community." —President Ferguson. Read more: A Message from the President: Addressing Injustice Anywhere

California College of the Arts 
"The pandemic had already laid bare the inequities—social, racial, economic, political—of a societal structure that is, at its core, terribly unjust, built on centuries of systemic oppression." —President Beal. Read more: Upholding racial justice and equity

California Institute of Integral Studies
"But the people of color in our society can’t turn away from this inequity because it is their lived reality. And neither should the rest of us turn away." —President Wexler. Read more: President Wexler's Statement about George Floyd and Police Brutality

California State University, Fresno
"In times like these, it is critical that we collectively redouble our efforts to address the challenges our African American friends and neighbors are facing in our Valley and across the nation." —President Castro. Read more: Statement By President Joseph I Castro Speaking Out In Support Of Our African American Community

California State University, Fullerton
"There comes a time when inaction reveals more than betrayal of principle. It portends complicity and acquiescence, if not quiet permission. That time is long past due. These black and brown lives are our students, our future, our Eden." —President Virjee. Read more: To Our Legacy Leaders Across White America

California State University System
"Never in our lifetimes has there been a sense of helplessness felt by so many. Feelings of helplessness, unabated, turn to frustration, and frustration to outrage. Outrage is justified and protest – that which leads to action – is imperative, and has been a powerful force for positive change throughout our country’s history." —Chancellor Timothy P. White and the Senior Leadership of the California State University. Read more: A Call for Unity and Understanding: Reaffirming the Values of the CSU

Chapman University
"While we can’t undo the tragic events that continue to tear this country apart, we can work to reaffirm our shared humanity and resolve to insist on social justice." —President Struppa. Read more: A Message from the Office of the President in Response to the Death of George Floyd

Columbia College Hollywood
“At CCH, we believe it is important to take a stand by demonstrating our willingness to promote and inspire systemic change. We must speak honestly and truthfully to the ugliness of racism that permeates throughout our society today.” —President Smith. Read more: Anti-Discrimination Stance

Dominican University
“Embracing diversity means recognizing the inequitable burden and the fear some members of our community carry simply because of their skin tone. It means believing it is the responsibility of every member of our community to stand against racism.” —President Marcy. Read more: Campus Message: Diversity Strengthens Our Community

Fielding Graduate University
"As each one of us think about what should be done at this moment, I encourage you to think of Dr. Martin Luther King’s message when he said, 'If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.' May we all live into his vision of a better society by the things we do each day." —President Rogers and Fielding Board of Trustees. Read more: Statement from Fielding Board of Trustees and President Rogers Regarding Recent Events

Harvey Mudd College
“Our values as a College community of caring for each other, our dedication to our mission statement and our deep and abiding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity seem more important than ever before.” —President Klawe.  Read more: Message from the President

Santa Clara University
"At this moment in our nation, it is vital that the voices of white people (including mine) join with other voices to name the injustice we see and acknowledge the hurt, anger, and frustration felt in our community." —President O'Brien. Read more: A Message on Racial Injustice

Sofia University
"Black lives matter, People of Color matter. I want you to know that you are valued members of the Sofia University community. We mourn with you; we stand with you and we are here to support you." —Acting President Cahoon. Read more: Sofia University Statement on George Floyd

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
“This is a time to draw deeply on the values that underlie The Chicago School experience. It’s a time to be reminded of the mission that guides us in our collective commitment to service, social justice, diversity, and inclusion.” —President Nealon. Read more: President’s Blog: For George Floyd

University of Antelope Valley
“As many of you march in protest, I thank you for your nonviolence and your service to humanity. I am grateful to UAV faculty, staff, and students who have joined in the global movement for transformation of a system that is unquestionably in dire need of repair.” —President Johnson. Read more: The Death of Systemic Racism

UCLA
"We must never let that indifference to human suffering become our own. We must never deaden our hearts to the pain of others. Our fundamental values demand that we care." —Chancellor Block, Student Leaders and Senior Staff.  Read more: UCLA leaders express solidarity with the protests against racial injustice

University of California, Riverside
“To those of you who too well understand the fear of being arrested, assaulted or killed because of the color of your skin – from ongoing Anti-Black racism to COVID-19 Anti-Asian upsurges, we want you to know we are with you and grateful that you are a part of our community. We will continue to foster an environment that not only values equality but fights inequity where we see it.” – Chancellor Wilcox. Read more: UC Riverside Mourns the Death of George Floyd

University of Hawaiʻi 
"I ask you all to stand with me against racism and discrimination. We must all be willing to speak up against corrosive “isms” wherever we see them." —President Lassner. Read more: Message from President Lassner About George Floyd

University of Hawai’i at Hilo
“To the African American members of our ‘ohana, we see you. We can only imagine your grief and anger, but we hear you. On our campus, you are loved and valued.” —Chancellor Irwin. Read more: Chancellor’s message on racial and social injustice

University of La Verne
“We reaffirm our commitment to our core values, specifically that of diversity and inclusivity. These two words have power, and it is our responsibility to live them at the University of La Verne and beyond.” —President Lieberman. Read more: A Message From the President and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

University of San Diego
“At the University of San Diego, we actively seek to create a world where the worth and dignity of every individual is respected.” —President Harris. Read more: In Solidarity

Whittier College
"The tragic events of the past few weeks bring home the structural inequities that are embedded in the history of this country...I am often asked why I have asked the Whittier College community to embrace the vision of equity and inclusion. It is because I believe that education is a fundamental human right and an equalizing catalyst that fuels the future." —President Oubré. Read more: A Message from President Linda Oubré

 

Last Updated: June 29, 2020