Dear S.J. Quinney College of Law community:
We are writing to acknowledge the profound moment we find ourselves in. If you are like us, you may be struggling to manage feelings of grief, anger, and impotence that have arisen in response to the events of the last several weeks. After experiencing a sense of foreboding and fear occasioned by a pandemic and an earthquake, we now find ourselves in the midst of sometimes violent nationwide protests over the unjust killing of Black people on the anniversary of the Tulsa massacre of 1921. Racial unrest is firmly entrenched in our American past and present, and in these past weeks, the news has offered heartbreaking images and stories.
- Breonna Taylor, a Black woman and an EMT in Kentucky, shot dead in her home by police officers executing a no-knock warrant and wearing no body cams.
- Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, killed on video by two white men purporting to carry out a citizen’s arrest.
- George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in the course of an arrest for alleged forgery.
We have also seen the video of Amy Cooper, a white woman now made famous for her 911 call feigning terror at being attacked by a Black man. That Black man, Chris Cooper (no relation), was guilty of nothing more than asking her to leash her dog in an area of Central Park in which all dogs are required to be leashed. Ms. Cooper’s instinct to weaponize the police showed her own callousness and disregard for Mr. Cooper’s safety.
In the wake of these events, our cities are experiencing unrest. Our country, our community, and our campus are suffering, convulsed by grief and frustrated by a seemingly endless cycle of injustice and indifference, for a dream deferred is a dream denied.
Each of these deaths touches us personally. As John Donne aptly wrote centuries ago:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
It is not enough to lament what we are seeing with the expectation that justice may eventually prevail. We must find hope in this crisis and that is what we have been doing. Like others, we cling to some fundamental beliefs to help us move forward with hope during these moments. We believe that we, as members and future members of the legal profession, all have a distinct role to play in making America’s future better than its past. We believe that ignoring institutional racism and wide-spread societal inequities gets us nowhere. We know that the law and lawyers will be an integral part of making a better world for us and our children. We also stand with our campus leaders in calling for a compassionate, equitable, and just society: https://law.utah.edu/news/statement-from-college-of-law-administrators-in-support-of-black-lives-matter/
As Martin Luther King, Jr., observed, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We prominently display this profound statement in our moot courtroom because of our belief in its prophecy, but we know the bending of the arc will not be a passive occurrence. There is work to be done in pursuit of a just society.
At the same time, we also want to acknowledge concerns recently raised by our community leaders, such as Mayor Mendenhall, Rev. France Davis, and Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera.
We are family, and we must do what family does – support and comfort one another during times of suffering. However, we must do more than that. We must recommit ourselves to making this world and this institution an even more welcoming and inclusive place. That is the true meaning of One Utah.
For those of you who would like to connect as a community, the faculty and staff diversity, equity, and inclusion committee will be hosting office hours on June 2 at 4 p.m. We look forward to talking to those of you who wish to do so.
Also, we want to remind you of resources available to support you. If it would be helpful, please remember that our counselor, Luana Nan, is available to help you. Current students can email her directly to set up regular intake or stabilization appointments at LNan@sa.utah.edu (even if they are not enrolled in summer classes).
These additional resources may be of interest to you:
FAQ’s on Bias/Hate Incident at the U
Elizabeth Kronk Warner, Dean
S.J. Quinney College of Law Faculty/Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
(Scott Balderson, Bob Flores, Erika George, Christine Kim, Leilani Marshall, and Elizabeth Kronk Warner)
Reyes Aguilar, Associate Dean for Admission and Financial Aid
Virginia Beane, Director of Business Operations
Mark Beekhuizen, Director of Information Technology
Melissa Bernstein, Director, James E. Faust Law Library
Kevin Carrillo, Director of Development
Carolynn Clark, Director of Masters of Legal Studies
Leilani Marshall, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
Arturo Thompson, Assistant Dean of Career Development