Message from Dean Betsy Farmer: "Coming together in difficult times" May 29, 2020

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Dear Social Work students and colleagues --

      Like many of you, I have been watching what is happening in our world recently and have been feeling angry, overwhelmed, and frustrated that we're witnessing horrible events and injustices again and again. I have tried to compose a carefully worded statement - and I just don't have it in me at the moment. We're living through a pandemic, witnessing callous and incompetent leadership, and repeatedly seeing the life and death implications of our society's systemic and historic racism and inequities. This week, all of this frustration, anger, and sense of repeated horrors have come to a head in Minneapolis, as we watch and re-watch police officers kill George Floyd. There is a sense of hopelessness, and feeling of helplessness, and, particularly for people of color, a sense of danger in everyday living. 

      Many of us are overwhelmed and consumed by these feelings and these experiences. And we should be -- this is not the world we want to live in, and this is not the world that we can tolerate or support! But we also can't feel isolated and alone in these feelings -- we know the importance of community, the power of connections, and the importance of hearing and being heard. As a school of social work, we have a responsibility to name these injustices, to work to alleviate the underlying conditions that lead to the horrific events in inequities we're witnessing, and to look for a productive path forward towards a world free of racism, injustice, cruelty, and ignorance!

      In that spirit of community, values, and connections, I want to invite you to two events:

      First, on Tuesday (June 2nd) -- the school will hold a community gathering (11:30-12:30 -- zoom invitation to follow on Monday). Please join us in holding space to grapple with our emotions and responses, to gain strength and insight from each other, and to just be together (as well as we can in the socially distanced times).

      Second, the Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) already had a very timely webinar scheduled for the following week -- Wednesday, June 10, 12:00-1:00. Professor David Harris, from the Pitt Law School, will be talking about "Race, Police, and Unarmed Civilian Deaths: What Can Be Done?" (registration will be available soon at crsp.pitt.edu)

      I hope you can join us for one or both of these. We need each other now -- it is exhausting to wrestle with all that is going on and not being able to support each other. I look forward to the chance to be together, to hear what our collective selves can do, and to find comfort and inspiration in each other! And, if you are unable to attend but are looking for ways to connect -- I welcome you to reach out -- to me, to each other, to faculty and staff. Or visit our website that will house a growing list of resources. Our school is a community, and we need to be part of a caring, engaged, empowered, and determined community right now.

      Please take care -- of yourselves and those around you! 

  In solidarity,

  Betsy