Dear UMass Engineering Community:
On September 8th, our National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter and two other groups on campus received a hate filled, racist email. UMPD, IT and University officials were instantly notified.
Our immediate focus was on supporting our NSBE students and respecting their privacy. An email to the college community was not a priority at that time—identifying the perpetrator(s) and pursuing disciplinary and legal action was, and still is.
I am, simply put, angry and dismayed that anti-Black racism is occurring on our campus. This is not acceptable. This is not who we are.
Chancellor Subbaswamy and Vice Chancellor Walker have communicated to all of you on a number of actions that the campus will be taking. We certainly support these steps and will engage to the maximum extent possible. That said, change will not come from an email, a workshop, or a talk attended by our most engaged students, faculty and staff that routinely show up. Meaningful change requires us as individuals to work to improve ourselves and to be allies.
I do not have answers for you today on the “what” and “how” and I do not want to reflexively point to the efforts we are attempting. Today, for those of us that have inherent privilege, I instead ask you to look inward. What positive examples can you set for those around you? How can you make it clear that acts of hatred are not tolerated?
It is time for some serious self-reflection on how we treat each other as PEOPLE, from a place of respect regardless of visible and invisible differences. We must all acknowledge the deep harm our cultures, communities, systems, and individuals have done to those that are not of the privileged majority.
In solidarity with our Black students, staff and faculty,
Dean, College of Engineering
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering