Earlier today I participated in a virtual Campus Conversation with our vice president of diversity, Equity and inclusion. Our goal was to focus on how we can work together to foster a safe, diverse and inclusive culture at WVU.
I participated from my office, and on the wall behind me was an American flag with a blue stripe that I had been given as a gift. For me personally, it has always represented a way to honor the commitment I made as a first responder to protect our community. I understand now that it represents something else to many others; something that I now know was traumatic to some of our community tuning in for our Conversation. I sincerely did not have any intent to suggest that police lives matter more than Black lives nor was I intentionally trying to cause any harm or offense.
I apologize for how this has damaged the trust I have worked to build with the community. I am committed to rebuilding that trust beginning today. I am taking the flag down from my office wall.
Sometimes, there are events that occur that open our eyes to things we have not seen before. The horrible killing of George Floyd has made it clear that we have much work to do in our country and in our own communities. Today I saw a symbol through others’ eyes. As a leader on our campus, I will be more conscientious, intentional and thoughtful. As a community, we also need to lead in that direction.
I did not come to today’s Campus Conversation with all of the answers. We have much to learn from each other. As we move forward and continue this dialogue, I ask that you continue to share your thoughts knowing I will accept them with an open mind. Today’s Campus Conversation was a reminder that we do have work to do.
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