A Message to Miami Students from the Vice President of Student Life

June 10, 2020

Dear Miami students:

There are pivotal times in the history of our country which have shifted our outlook on the future, and I believe we are living through one of those now. The protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade and other recent incidents of hatred and racial injustice are not just a response to the moment, but a response to the long history of racism in our country. We cannot let this time pass us by without taking action to make lasting, meaningful changes in our own lives, communities, country, and world.

To our students of color, particularly our Black students: We see you. We care about you. And we hear you. We are listening to your experiences, on and off-campus, and know our efforts made to date have fallen short. There is still much work to do. We continue to be committed to learn, unlearn, advocate, and take action to make a better, more just, and inclusive Miami.

To our White students: as you talk to the people of color in your lives in the coming days and when we return to campus, show them that you are paying attention. And if they want to talk, listen. Really listen - with an open heart - to how they are feeling. Then use your privilege and your voice to speak up and work to make things better. Use your platforms to amplify Black voices. Real change will only happen when we become allies and use our voices in our own communities.

There are actions that all of us can take together this summer to learn more about diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. For example, there are some great book lists out there, like this one that includes books about civil rights history, policing and incarceration, memoirs, and novels, this anti-racism book list for White readers, or this list of books by Black authors that everyone should read. You could also add films and podcasts to your list. There are organizations that you can research, and choose to support. There is so much for all of us to learn about ourselves, our history, and about those whose lives are different than our own, and we all have to make a commitment to continue that education throughout our lives. In the coming weeks, we will also be assembling an anti-racism toolkit which will include a more extensive range of resources for those interested in extending their learning and putting that into action. This toolkit is one of several different actions that the Division of Student Life is committing to in order to bring change to Miami. Please regularly check our website for updates.

Student Life is here to provide you with resources and support at Miami, on and off-campus. Please let us know about bias incidents on campus through the Bias Reporting Form or reach out to the Dean of Students office. The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI) offers a range of supportive programs, including a dialogue series where anyone, whether you are just starting to explore these issues or have been living them every day, can learn from each other. Grappling with issues of injustice can impact your mental health so if you need someone to talk to, please reach out to the Student Counseling Service, which is open all summer, or take advantage of the H.O.P.E. line (855-249-5649), Miami’s 24-hour mental health phone line. In addition, the staff in all 14 Student Life departments, myself included, is committed to supporting you, being a resource for you, or just listening. You can reach and of us through studentlife@miamioh.edu

Student Life is working with many across campus toward action. Members of Miami’s executive leadership team have also been and will continue to engage with groups of students this summer to listen to your perspectives and experiences. These conversations are informing the development of new initiatives to improve the student experience. You should expect an update with more information soon.

Wherever you are in the world right now, remember to take care of yourself. Know we are thinking about you. We miss you and we are here for you.

Dr. Jayne Brownell
Vice President for Student Life