Black Lives Matter: From the Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences
As dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, I am outraged by the continued realities of racist violence and discrimination in our country. This hard fact can be denied no longer. It must stop.
Like so many others, here and around the world, I stand in humble solidarity with historically wronged and racially marginalized individuals. As an educator, conscience and duty bind me to help build a truly just and equitable society, speaking out against the blights of our day.
The purpose of the letters, arts, and social sciences is to study the human condition and apply these insights to the world around us, so that we become agents of moral change. The study of culture and society teaches us about our troubled present and helps us imagine a better future for everyone. Through this means, we give meaning and dignity to our vocation.
Too often, however, the academic disciplines can become ensconced within the narrow confines of our scholarly fields. We look inwardly instead of outside, at the world around us, with all its unpleasant and frightening realities. It is easier and safer to do so. Yet we must look outside and step into today's struggles, refusing to remain quiet or complicit in the face of things that must change.
Too often, as well, our academic fields have failed to listen to disenfranchised or marginalized voices, trivializing or excluding them from the grand narratives that we like to tell about culture and society. To do so, however, creates its own complicity. It mutilates the sweep of human experience and perpetuates indifference, incomprehension, and prejudice. For it is only by listening to these voices that we can learn to build a better world.
As dean, I join President Green in affirming that black lives matter. I pledge that our college becomes a more effective instrument in building a more just and equitable society. The problems of today may seem too large to make any significant change, but we can collectively begin to address these issues by looking and acting locally. I ask you to consider the everyday actions that you might take to help bring about change.
For me, I see that we must further diversify our curriculum and means of instruction, our faculty and staff, and our student body itself. We must partner with colleagues across the university and community members, looking for ways to serve and promote change. Together we can build a space where students, faculty, and staff know that they are valued and safe — and then bring that commitment outside the university's doors. We must work diligently towards justice and respect in our world. Above all, people must listen to those who have been silenced for too long. Now is the time. We can wait no longer.
Sean M. Quinlan, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of History