Provost

A Letter to the UC Community

Dear colleagues, faculty, staff, and students:

We write today to share our thoughts about the concerns expressed by members of our community for a vitriolic and racist letter that was received by one of our Black faculty members. Some might have seen the letter on digital media, some might have read about it in articles and communication that has been shared internally. Diverse members of our community have shared a concern that we, as university administrators, are not doing more to address the content of the letter. 

As soon as we became aware of the letter, we contacted Public Safety and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Access to pursue actions against the sender of the letter. Meanwhile, the letter became available on social media, where many first accessed it's content and were justly incensed, though some, mistakenly, believed it had been sent by someone internal to UC's community. VP Marshall issued a statement on the page of the Office of Equity, Inclusion & Community Impact’s website.  

Attacks like those made by the anonymous letter writer are cowardly and despicable and don't belong in a society that considers itself just. Unfortunately, they are meant to damage the receiver and those in our community who bear centuries of real and metaphorical scars of dehumanization on their bodies and identities. They also, empathetically, are meant to awaken the indignation of those who are allies and believe that a civilized society has no place for such vitriol. They invite us to pain, they invite us to passion and, unfortunately, they seek to create chaos and anger in all of us. They are meant to draw us into battle with invisible and visible enemies. 

We understand the need for an open conversation on these matters and encourage all who wish to do so to address these concerns within their communities of belonging and through our structures of support. Please trust that we are attempting to find who the perpetrator(s) of this attack might be. 

Make no mistake. We condemn every aspect of the letter's rhetoric and vitriol. We also acknowledge that our words will not repair the damage inflicted by the hatred of the words in the letter. We want members of our community to feel safe, and we understand that members of our community don't feel safe, and others feel diminished in their endorsement of justice.

These times are not for the faint of heart. When we cannot dialogue on the origins of hatred, we are all diminished, as is the meaning of our society's civility and citizenry. Those who attack us know it, and we must know it in return. Let's be a place that provides safe harbor to everyone. Let's grow our intentional desire to change. We can never give up and need to preserve our democratic ideals; and we must do so united. 

We are in the process of developing a guide for dealing with hate mail.  If you would like to contribute to its creation, please sign up by November 14 and we will notify you of the meeting date.

Valerio Ferme, PhD
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Bleuzette Marshall, PhD
Vice President for Equity, Inclusion & Community Impact