Over the past weeks, we have witnessed the senseless and violent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by white supremacists who felt entitled to confront him about being in the neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia where he was jogging; Breonna Taylor, a black woman in Louisville who was shot eight times by police who fired into her home more than 20 times while she lay in her bed; and the murder of George Floyd, whose life we saw slip away as he lay handcuffed and face down on the pavement while a white police office kneeled on his neck with his full weight for nearly nine minutes as Mr. Floyd cried out for help saying that he could not breathe.
These horrific acts remind us of the lasting, insidious effects of racism and white supremacy in our country. They are the outcome of entrenched societal maladies that we must confront and resolve through immediate action while we simultaneously pursue longer-term strategies that facilitate systemic, structural changes. Members of the Gevirtz School community stand behind calls for constructive and legal actions that will deliver social justice forthwith to those who harm members of our community. And as importantly, and consistent with our recently established strategic plan, we reaffirm our responsibility and duty as a school, as teachers and scholars, and public servants to use education research, practice, and policy tools to dismantle racism and promote the well-being of our many diverse communities.
Consistent with our strategic plan vision to “be a leader in addressing pressing social justice issues through interdisciplinary collaborations grounded in educational and applied psychological research, teaching, and service,” the Gevirtz School will:
- Embed social justice concerns as central parts of our curriculum by critically examining our nation’s history of educational inequities, mass incarceration, state sanctioned violence, and inadequate access to quality health care.
- Increase the diversity of our hires and hires of persons whose work focuses on the pursuit and attainment of social justice.
- Examine disparities within our own School and develop action plans that allow us to facilitate educational equity, access, and success for all students, staff, and faculty.
- Expand our collaborations with schools, community groups, and government agencies to move forward an agenda of social and educational justice in our communities.
Finally, we invite all members of the Gevirtz, UCSB, local, national, and international communities to work with us to focus our individual and collective action to dismantle racism and transcend issues of educational and social inequity.
Jeffrey F. Milem, Dean ● Richard Duran, Associate Dean ● Danielle Harlow, Associate Dean ● Jill Sharkey, Associate Dean ● Briana Villaseñor, Assistant Dean