Dear Harvard College Students,
Here in Cambridge, our campus is still and quiet, as it has been these past few months. But this weekend, the contrast between our serene campus and the events outside our gates has never seemed so stark.
We are outraged by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We are outraged by the countless deaths of Black and Brown people that have been caused by a system that treats so many as expendable. And we are frustrated by those who are willfully blind to the systemic racism that led to these deaths and to so many others. We know that so many of you share our outrage and frustration, and we are writing to you today to tell you that we stand with you. Black lives matter, and we must do better.
Even before these recent events, the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the deep fractures in our society. Political, racial, and religious divides are all around us. Wearing a mask has become a political statement; science and facts are contested; people of color are disproportionately threatened by their mere existence in public spaces. Acts of xenophobia have increased, and implicit and explicit forms of violence disproportionately impact the most vulnerable and discriminated against. This is not the society that we want to live in, and it is not the society we want for all of you.
All of us who believe in our College’s mission must transform our outrage and pain into action. We must ask ourselves how Harvard College can be a place that contributes to a more informed and honest conversation about the inequalities both within Harvard and in society. We know that we must strengthen the way we work across differences and the way we welcome people into our community.
We have already begun to think about how the College’s programming and support can reflect a deeper understanding of the challenges confronting us. And we are committed to supporting all of you in pursuing research and service opportunities that will empower you to contribute to creating a more just society.
Whether you are an incoming or returning student, we look forward to hearing from you in the coming months about how we can work together to create positive change, both on campus and beyond. These are unsettling times, but we have confidence that together we can help make this world – our world – one that recognizes the dignity of every human life.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College
Dean of Students