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Act now: Join our commitment to create sustained systemic change in science

By Vrushali Bokil, Interim Dean

The video footage of Tyre Nichols’ brutal death at the hands of Memphis police officers is devastating. My heart breaks for his family and for our country as we process this horrific tragedy. For members of the Black and African American community in the College of Science and the university, these incidents are terrible burdens to bear.

We cannot stand by and watch while members of our community live in continued fear for their lives and bear mental anguish while engaging in what should be ordinary activities like driving home or walking on the street to get a cup of coffee. While this remains an everyday reality, we must be tireless in our urgent, collective work.

Over the coming difficult days, many of our students and community members may need extra support while processing this tragedy. I encourage you to stay engaged with one another to provide support and strength. Please also take care of your own well-being. Speak to a loved one, friend or mental health advocate to share and process your feelings, and don’t hesitate to use the resources available to you at OSU (see resource list below).

While I take heart in the steps the College of Science has taken to confront racism, our work is ongoing. We must continue our sustained commitment to systemic change in Science and be vigilant about our work to increase safety and community for Black members of our community.

The College of Science organized a virtual town hall on October 8, 2020, in response to a petition signed by 105 College of Science students following the national outcry after the death of George Floyd, who was murdered in police custody on May 25, 2020. Attended by over 300 people, the listening session centered the experiences of Black science students in the College and spotlighted the considerable obstacles Black science students experience at OSU. That event, coupled with many preceding conversations, laid the groundwork for the development of a diversity action plan to advance anti-racist outcomes by aiming to ensure the college is a more inclusive and equitable place for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and underrepresented students, faculty and staff of color.

We are committed to systemic change through our Diversity Action Plan, Embedding Equity, Access and Inclusion. The plan was influenced by the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and a call to action issued by Black and Indigenous students, students of color, and other students holding underrepresented identities in the College of Science.

President Murthy reflects more fully on this matter in a message on the presidential webpage, which outlines the steps that OSU has taken to confront police violence here in our own community and the work that remains to be done. I join her in asking you to remain engaged by learning about racial injustice, confronting racism in all domains of our shared work.

I call on all members of the College of Science to challenge systemic, organizational and individual racism and implicit biases shaping our notion of who can thrive as part of a science community. Through our actions, we express the power of the College of Science to help create a just society.

Vrushali A. Bokil
College of Science, Interim Dean

Please be open and compassionate with colleagues as we process this tragedy, and access or share these resources for support:

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