Dear Khoury students, alumni, faculty, and staff,
As Dean of the college, I write to you after sustained reflection and after many conversations with people in the Khoury community and beyond.
We are deeply troubled over the recent, violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. These are but the latest additions to a long list of lives cut short by hate and systemic racism. It is imperative we acknowledge the inequality and violence that has oppressed the Black community for hundreds of years.
I write to you with a heavy heart as I struggle to compose words that convey my emotions and respond to justified pain and anger. Black Americans and people of color face aggressions and violence in their daily lives. Many of you do. Protestors and activists in all 50 states, and around the world, have declared that structural and institutional racism, and their effects, cannot and must not continue.
We at Khoury College — your faculty, staff, mentors, and advisors — fully support and deeply believe in the Black Lives Matter movement. We support our students, staff, and faculty of color, and we will continue to do so. As a Northeastern college, we are committed to anti-racism and to a conscious decision to make frequent, deliberate, and equitable choices that hinge on the effort to oppose and dismantle the racist structures that are prevalent.
I became a college dean of a computer science program in order to address what I had observed as a faculty member and researcher – that tech fields and the study of computer science has a long way to go in truly being welcoming to diverse populations. As your dean, I have had much to learn, personally, in my understanding of racism and unconscious biases. Self-examination and humility have helped, and so have honest conversations with Black faculty, staff, and students in our community.
The leadership team, associate deans, and I are here to listen, learn, and create an environment in which every member of our community feels welcome, safe, secure, and equal. To fully arrive at this point we need clear actionable steps.
Just as I can strive to do better as an educator and leader, we can and absolutely will do better as a college, and beyond. At the college, I have been having many conversations with the leadership team, Black faculty and staff, and advisors who are engaged with students. I am paying attention to your remarks on social media — thank you for speaking. In the short term, we are arranging these three immediate actions:
- A Khoury community town hall in June
- The formation of a working group made up of faculty, staff and students – whose charter is to assess our culture and inform anti-racism policies
- An open channel of communication, in which we encourage members of the community to provide direct and confidential feedback, please email email@example.com
We have found that listening and learning are invaluable. In an effort to make a lasting and impactful change, we would like to request your patience as we take needed time to formulate concrete recommendations for fact-finding, programming, and monitoring progress on action steps as we go forward.
Computer science has the capacity to change the world for the better. We maintain our commitment to our vision of Computer Science for Everyone and the overarching goal of engaging and promoting diverse populations to reflect that of the global population. Again, we recognize there is significant work to do and Khoury College is fully committed to doing our part to lead this change. To our students, and those of you who have spoken: thank you for your courage and persistence. We welcome all opportunities to listen and learn as we plan the next steps on a long path.
I encourage you all to take part in the online vigil at 11:00am (ET) on Monday, June 8th to honor George Floyd and the countless Black lives taken at the hands of inhumane violence. As the President referenced in his message from last night, this is a step forward in the journey for racial justice.