Response to Black Lives Matter Protests by the Department of Geological Sciences at UF
In the past few weeks, we have witnessed another painful chapter in the long history of systemic racism and violence that has plagued our country since its birth. The senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others before them is a stark and horrifying reminder of the reality that Americans of color, and especially Black Americans, face in their daily lives. We share in the broken-heartedness and outrage that our community and country are experiencing.
The Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Florida affirms that we stand with all those in our department community, at UF, in Gainesville, in the state of Florida, throughout the United States and the world who continue to be tormented by the scourge of racism and injustice. We affirm our support for non-violent protests in our community. We affirm that black lives matter. We affirm that your stories, experiences, and emotions are real, and that they matter. We affirm that white privilege is real and that we live in an inequitable society, and that these facts must be confronted and faced head on. We affirm that we, as educators, scientists, and role models in the privileged halls of academia must use our positions to do more to combat the effects of systemic racism that pervade our institutions. We affirm that we as geoscientists, in one of the least diverse fields in STEM, must fundamentally change how we approach solutions to the lack of diversity in Earth and Planetary Sciences and the damage that it causes. And we affirm that at this moment in time, we must listen. We must listen to the voices of our friends, colleagues, and community members who have for too long been denied a seat at the table, who have been screaming into the void about the oppression that they have suffered, and how our actions or lack of actions perpetuate that suffering. We as educators must do the hard work to examine our own biases and actively fight racism. A good place to start is the Paleontological Society of America’s list of resources that explore racism, bias, and allyship in academia.
At the University of Florida, our motto is Civium in Moribus rei Publicae Salus, meaning The Welfare of the State Depends on the Morals of its Citizens. This statement calls all of us at UF to action in no uncertain terms. The Department of Geological Sciences is not only committed to supporting our students, staff, and faculty through this difficult time, but also to using our voices as geoscientists to educate others about the connections between climate change and social justice, and how they can be addressed. We support and endorse the statements by UF President Ken Fuchs and CLAS Dean David Richardson, and the personal testimony from UF Dean of the College of Arts Onye Ozuzu, and we recognize that affirmations such as those above are meaningless unless they are followed by real action. Diversity in all its forms provides strength, and only with that strength will we be able to tackle the many challenges that lie ahead.
For UF Students in Need of Support
UF Counseling and Wellness Center
For Faculty, Staff, and Their Families in Need of Support
UF Employee Assistance Program
Alachua County Crisis Center
The Faculty of the Department of Geological Sciences
University of Florida