A Message From the Dean

Paul Wahlbeck, Interim Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Paul Wahlbeck, Interim Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
June 02, 2020

Dear CCAS Community:

I am outraged and saddened by the recent senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, which have once again exposed the painful reality of systemic racism within our society. The visual and viral power of social media has vividly captured a centuries-old pattern of pain and racial injustice. These images bring to mind footage from our not-so-distant past of African Americans being attacked by police dogs, billy clubs and fire hoses simply for exercising their right to protest the status quo.

As a scholar of judicial politics and civil rights and liberties, I fully appreciate the complicated and troubled history of law enforcement in our nation, especially when it comes to issues of race. This is precisely why it is so important to be a nation guided by principles of law, so discriminatory and damaging conduct will not be condoned by those entrusted with authority.

During this time of anger and pent-up frustration that is tearing through our cities, I am heartened by scenes of people coming peacefully together to condemn bigotry in all of its forms. Racism and hatred have no place in our communities or our institutions. We stand with our many African American students, colleagues, alumni and friends, and we stand for a just legal system that does not tolerate violence and oppression against anyone.

Our communities were already thrown into chaos during the COVID pandemic, which hit the African American population particularly hard, and now we find ourselves once again in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty. At Columbian College, we pledge not only to support everyone’s rights and freedom—but to listen, learn and try our best to understand the challenges before us, to foster honest conversations that bridge our divides and address deeply embedded biases. I welcome your input and ideas on how best to move forward through dialogue and meaningful action, and invite you to send those to [email protected].

In the meantime, please know that there are a number of campus resources available to you. These include resources provided by the offices of Diversity, Equity and Community EngagementCounseling and Psychological ServicesAdvocacy & SupportStudent AffairsHuman Resources and Faculty Affairs.

All my best to each of you during this difficult time.

Paul Wahlbeck