Classes Cancelled on Monday, Sept. 21

September 20, 2020

Dear Grinnell community, 

As you may know a resident of the city of Grinnell was murdered last week. His name was Michael Williams, and he was a Black member of the Grinnell community. This stark and brutal murder in the national context of racial injustice has struck intense fear for safety of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) colleagues, friends, and families. National context has become local experience. The investigation is underway to bring justice to Mr. Williams and his family. 

Now is the time for Grinnellians, college and town, to recognize the connection that this incident has to a long history of oppression of Black Americans. We live in a predominantly white community and work in a predominantly white college. The murder of Mr. Williams is an incident that is rare in the experience of most Iowans. But for many people of color, this incident is the most recent in an accumulated history of prejudice, mistreatment, and murder. 

We are cancelling classes tomorrow, Monday, September 21, to recommit ourselves to equity and inclusion and to recognize the violent loss of one of our community. Dean Marzluff will follow up with faculty and staff, and AVP Moschenross will be in communication with students and families with more details and support about the day. To the members of our community impacted by this tragedy, please take the rest you need tomorrow. To others, please take time tomorrow to meet with your academic or administrative department and contribute suggestions for actions we can take to build our community and prevent the suffering of our neighbors. Campus partners across the institution will gather us to build upon and implement ideas. We will be back in touch with more opportunities for action and recognition in the next week and beyond.  

All the best, 

Anne Harris, President
Schvalla Rivera, Chief Diversity Officer, Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, and Senior Advisor to the President 

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