Message from the Dean following the Chauvin Trial Verdict

April 21, 2021

By Stephen Esquith, Dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities


We continue to process the relentless racial violence that the pandemic has thrown into sharper relief, cautiously encouraged by the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Once again, we find ourselves on the razor's edge, unsure of what will follow but strengthened in our commitment to do the right thing.

As we struggle to heal ourselves from the wounds of racial violence, we must continue to proactively plan for the future. The two must go hand in hand. We should take advantage of the resources that President Stanley has listed in his letter to the MSU community immediately after the announcement of the verdict in this important case and similar words from Provost Teresa K. Woodruff, while we continue on the path of academic transformation to which we have committed ourselves.

I have asked RCAH faculty and staff to help me articulate just what this process of healing and transformation can be. We began earlier this year with a series of racial healing circles and meetings for faculty and staff, and students will be invited to participate in this process in the fall. The RCAH Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has already provided me with a set of direct proactive responses to recent events and the systemic patterns of violence leading up to them. We will be sharing these and other plans as they take shape. This process is modeled on the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Centers at many colleges and universities throughout the country ( Hopefully, RCAH can lead by example and MSU will create such a center here on campus.  

As we put these ideas into practice, I believe we will be able to do more than decry the next atrocity and comfort one another in our grief, as important as these things are. However, for now, let me say simply that in these hard times there are promising moments. We should take heart when justice seems to be served, but not forget that it takes a collective effort to sustain them.