Message from the Vice President
Dear Student Affairs Team,
I am sorry this note is reaching you after the traditional workday; yet I wanted to make sure to get it to you as quickly as I could. I know we all heard the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin earlier today. We’ve also collectively experienced the impact of the body cam footage showing the death of Adam Toledo, and witnessed video of the killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer in Minnesota. The impact these acts of state violence has on our students, ourselves, and our communities is both compounding and overwhelming.
As a division and a university we have made commitments and taken action towards being a more socially just institution. The work to dismantle systems rooted in White supremacy is unrelenting and exhausting. I want to start out by saying I see each of you. I see your efforts and I hear in your stories the exhaustion you are carrying for yourselves and others. I feel the heaviness you carry – and yet, I can never feel it as much as our marginalized Student Affairs team members do. I know your hearts, souls, minds, and bodies are overwhelmed and tired. For our full team – everything is hard right now. And for our Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) team members – it’s even harder.
I also see our students – struggling to find footing, stability, and their voice. For our BIPOC students - I hear the anger, the grief, the pain, the hopelessness and the helplessness in their words. Exhaustion looms, anxiety builds, and they struggle to navigate through it all.
As we continue to move through this time, many will be coming to work wrestling with a range of emotions - from grief to anger to anxiety. Now more than ever, it is essential to remember that self-care is social justice work. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. I know that we love and care for our students and each other – but caring for a community means caring for ourselves. As we navigate over the coming days and weeks, please be reminded:
- During meetings with your teams, and with students, I encourage you to create space to processes, should you feel equipped to do so without causing additional harm.
- Supervisors, please check in with your teams and reaffirm our expectations of and opportunities for self-care, and work as a team to navigate work expectations so that folx can take time they need.
- Remember you have resources available to you as staff, including our Employee Assistance Program through Northwestern.
The gravity of the decision in the Chauvin trial is significant and important, and the toll anti-Blackness and White supremacy take on our community is real. As we have worked together before to support each other and our students, I know we will do so again. So please, take care of yourselves as you work so hard to take care of others. We need you and our students need you, too.
Know that you are seen, and that you are loved.
With gratitude and care,