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Responding to the Death of George Floyd

May 30, 2020

To: The Campus Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: May 30, 2020
Re: Responding to the Death of George Floyd

The brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis challenges our assumptions and our ideals. It casts into high relief tensions that are present in American society, but experienced very differently depending on your skin color. It cuts to the core of our aspirations as an academic community and reminds us of the work that we must do to attain them.

Caltech's values demand a culture of inclusion where every individual is empowered to realize their full potential. We strive for a diverse community in every sense of the word because the discourse that results when people of different perspectives engage with each other is how we reach understanding and create knowledge. That discourse requires listening to and hearing with empathy what each individual has to say, informed by their particular life experience, and being prepared to have your mind changed.

For many in the black community, Mr. Floyd's death and the events surrounding it have been felt especially acutely, in ways that most of us cannot fully understand because of the limits of our own experiences. As the Caltech community, we have to start here at home and make sure that the Institute is an inclusive environment that eschews stereotypes and recognizes every individual for their full worth. We must challenge the assumptions and practices that permit matters of personal identity to create fundamental insecurities about safety and well-being in the larger society. Called by present events, we have the opportunity to do better.