Letter to the Community Regarding Recent Police Violence

Saturday, May 30, 2020
This letter was recently sent to the PAU community from President Maureen O'Connor and Faculty Director of Equity & Inclusion Teceta Tormala:
Dear PAU community,
Recent events have captured national attention and highlight the precariousness of living as a Black person in America. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a White police officer- and expressions of historically-based rage and uprising that have followed- and the call to police about Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher in Central Park, happened just this week, and come shortly after the killing of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. These are a few of many, many instances that spotlight the danger facing Black people daily as they go through the mundane activities of life- going on a jog, talking with a friend, watching birds, sleeping. As an institution, we denounce these horrific acts. We stand with resilience in our communities of color and in solidarity as allies.
Viewing the events of today through the lens of history and social science, we can understand that the devaluation of and brutality against Black bodies is a living vestige of slavery, as we understand that bias and bigotry towards Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Arab/Middle Eastern/North African, LGBTQ, and multiracial communities has roots in genocide, hatred, and dehumanization. The systems of oppression and systemic racism created the template in which whiteness is superior and communities of color are inferior, in ways large and small, across all institutions in American society. We see the consequences of these systems in the disparities that exist in mental and physical health disparities by race, ethnicity, and sexual and gender identity, disparities that many of our students and faculty confront and address in their academic and clinical work.
We recognize that, as an educational institution in the United States, these forces cannot help but operate within our own system and community, regardless of our intentions or of the values we hold dear. We may feel outraged and helpless as we witness ongoing violence and brutality to Blacks across the country, but we are not powerless in our own community. We commit to using the tools we have as educators, trainees, and staff to support those who are harmed by injustice; to create lasting, meaningful change; and to open our hearts to healing. 
Within PAU, we will offer spaces for students to join in fellowship and advocacy around identity-based pain and anger and speak the truth of their experiences to an institution that will listen and evolve. We will support our university committee on Equity and Inclusion in the work to unpack and dismantle power and privilege as they are enacted at interpersonal and institutional levels. We will strengthen the development of dialogue across lines of difference and true allyship in all members of our community. Facing outward to our broader communities, we will amplify the scholarship by our students and faculty on underserved and underrepresented populations, which advances the field and develops cultural consciousness within counseling and psychology. We will continue our work serving diverse communities and will find new partnerships to translate research into community resources.
Together, we will continue to work towards a more just, fair, and equitable society. 

Maureen O'Connor


Teceta Tormala

Faculty Director of Equity & Inclusion

O'Connor, Maureen, Ph.D., J.D.


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