Statement from President Donald Birx: June 1, 2020

Dear Plymouth State Family,

Almost 250 years ago, Thomas Jefferson declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” It is painful that what was self-evident long ago has yet to be realized for many among us.

We are making progress, but something in our nature keeps pulling us back. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week has filled me with sadness and anger.  We don’t condone the rioting that is taking place across the country but we also cannot accept what brings it on. While the killing of Mr. Floyd is on our minds today, there are too many victims whose experiences never make headlines and whose names will never become public. The discrimination that permeates our country in so many subtle ways hurts us all, and we are all diminished by it.

It astounds and baffles me that in the midst of a virus ripping through the country, there is still a penchant for hate, prejudice, and tearing down others. Our response must be to continue the ongoing effort to treat each other with love and care.

PSU’s Director of Student Life Tevis Bryant knows our students well and works with them every day to make their lives and our campus a better place. “As a Black, gay man living in America, I am sad and fearful,” he says. “I am sad because the conversations that I remember having at seven years of age with my parents are still unresolved, and I am fearful because I have to think that at any moment this could be me.  Higher education has created a safe space to discuss these issues, but we need to do more. I encourage and challenge my white students, colleagues, and friends to not only support people of color, but to educate others on the issues of justice, truth, and equality.”

Our guiding principles remain, and Plymouth State University, first and foremost, reaffirms its support and recognition of the validity of all people of color who are integral, loved members of our community and beyond. 

I understand that many of you are making your voices heard through education, calls to public officials and through the personal care and attention you are giving to your classmates, students, and colleagues. Plymouth State University stands in solidarity with each of you. 

It is in these moments that we should all be reminded that the common thread that unites our work as a university is the emphasis on our shared humanity. We are doing our part to create a more just and equitable society and are stronger because of it.

If you would like to speak with someone about these issues or need additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our Counseling Center is available to assist you during this time. 

Simply witnessing injustice is not enough but instead should lead us to contemplative action, so I have asked campus leadership to determine if there are other ways we can and should respond to this situation, including deeper campus-wide conversations when we return to campus later this summer. I will share more details as they emerge.

Again, I want to assure each one of you of our unwavering support. We will be there for each other in the days and years ahead and will make sure that everyone on campus is able to teach, learn, and grow in an atmosphere of civility, safety, and mutual respect. These are the hallmarks of our culture and will continue to be so.

Thank you for all that you contribute to our shared community.

Donald Birx