A Statement of Solidarity and Action

Sabah Randhawa: I am Sabah Randhawa, President of Western Washington University.

Like so many of you, I am appalled by the horrific killing of George Floyd in broad daylight by someone charged and empowered to uphold the public trust and protect all of us. This senseless killing, and the countless others that came before, fly in the face of the basic sanctity of human life.

To our Black students, Black faculty staff and alumni, and to all of our Black and African American communities, I want to say that while I'm not in your shoes, like you, I'm angry and frustrated, I hurt for you, and I stand with you. I have been touched by the many personal messages that have been sent to me over the past few days. I am sorry that you are going through yet another recurrence of events causing fear, grief, and despair.

The death of George Floyd, and the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black communities and communities of color, have laid bare the deep currents of structural inequity that are interwoven with many of our society's institutions. And we all know that the inequality shaking our nation also exists in education.

The question we all need to ask at Western is: What are we going to do individually, and collectively, to make real progress on the persistent inequities that define the lives of too many of our students and colleagues of color?

In the near term, it means helping Black students complete Spring Quarter with grading policies that exhibit compassion and understanding of what they are going through. In addition to the pass/fail grading for all students this quarter, faculty are being encouraged to give Black students wide latitude on incomplete grades, to be replaced with earned grades when the work is complete.

In the longer term, it means continued institutional investment in advancing the success of Black students and students of all underrepresented identities. The COVID pandemic poses serious economic challenges to Western.

Despite those challenges, Western will move forward with the search for a Multicultural Student Services Director, and once that position is secured, to further develop the infrastructure needed at Western to support the success of our Black and African American students, as well as other students of color.

To our Black students and students from all underrepresented groups and identities: Please know you are important and your lives, your identities, and your success matters at Western. We are grateful that you decided to come to Western for your education, and we are committed to making Western a place where you can grow, thrive, and be proud.

I ask that each of us take the time to reflect on our own implicit biases that influence our judgements and choices, that we consider the acts of kindness and compassion that can support the Black community at this time, and that we commit ourselves to advancing genuine inclusive success and opportunity in our circles of influence and at Western.

Thank you.

Messages of Support Across Western

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Western is committed to providing a welcoming, equitable and inclusive campus community for all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, veteran status, and financial background.