CSU System: Diversity requires perspectives

Editor’s note

A special letter from Colorado State University System Chancellor Tony Frank on Wednesday, June 3, was devoted to CSU scholars telling stories of their lived experience in response to the ongoing protests systemic racism in the United States. We’re sharing that letter and those stories here, in case you missed it.

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Community focus | Statewide engagement | Global impact 
The CSU System includes three campuses: CSU in Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global
Diversity includes perspectives.
 
The Colorado State University System opposes racism in all forms and stands with those who advocate for justice and too often have to take on extraordinary personal risk to challenge systemic and institutional racism.
 
Our System community is made up of scholars who are processing and responding this week from their own vantage point and lived experience. These are messages we want to share as part of encouraging continued dialogue. Please take a moment to read the important perspectives and calls to action from a few of the voices in our own CSU System. 
 
In this special edition newsletter, you’ll hear pain, anger, frustration, support, perspective, and hope. We suspect you’re somewhere on that emotional spectrum yourself. View our world through others’ eyes as you peruse these perspectives. Take care of yourself, and be well.

- tony
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Thoughts on This Moment

Mary Ontiveros, Vice President for Diversity at CSU Fort Collins, CSU ’73 and ‘79

I started at CSU as a student in 1969. Like many of my peers at the time, I actively engaged in anti-war demonstrations that were taking place on college campuses throughout the country. I caucused as a delegate to a national political convention on behalf of women, youth, and Latinx communities. Witnessing the injustices of the world around me, especially as a young woman of color, spurred my passion for social justice and activism. My optimism carried me through those difficult times; we were changing the world for future generations. When I thought of the future, I imagined a society very different than the one I was experiencing all those years ago, and that gave me hope.


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I Don’t Have the Luxury of Giving Up

Dr. Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs at CSU in Fort Collins; CSU ’84

I am usually the optimistic one. The glass not just half full but almost always, full. If you have a negative, I am the person who can find the positive. I always believed that no matter how bad it gets, it can and will get better. You just have to believe! Do the “right” things! Have faith that for the most part people are good, and if you are good and do all the things that you are told to do to make your life and the world better, you will be accepted. Study hard in school, make good choices, don’t use drugs, follow the laws, go to college and get involved, get a master’s degree, get a doctorate degree, be nice, make people feel good, build relationships. If you do all these things you can make a difference in the world.


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A faculty member talks to student athletes, in two parts

Dr. Albert Bimper Jr., Assistant Vice President and Senior Associate Athletics Director at CSU in Fort Collins; CSU '06

DISTURBANCE I hope this finds you and yours doing the best you possibly can, but above all, safe at this time. As many are aware, we all continue to witness tragic acts of violence take the lives of our brothers and sisters across communities of this nation amid a pandemic that indiscriminately does the same in every corner of our hometowns and across the globe. I imagine that you, like myself, my wife, and my three young kids, feel a heartbreaking pain deep in your gut that is both infuriating and sobering all at once as you watch the line charts rise accounting for COVID-19 deaths only to be interposed by videos of the bodies of black men and women that fall limp to unnecessary gun shots and determined knees pressed against their neck.


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ACTIONS There is mourning in our streets. The pain, hurt, marches, discussions, analysis of civil unrest, questions, demands for change, and calls for unity continue in every city and town in our fractured country right now. To some of us, this is the most confusing of times, while others view that the tragic images and realities of the day have a simple explanation, as ironic as that may be, through a reflective lens upon the experiment of what we call America. I know that many of you are taking on the challenge of the cries of protests and tears of loss that flood our streets.


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CSU condemns Floyd killing, stands with community against hate and violence

Joyce McConnell, President, CSU in Fort Collins

As protestors gather in cities around the country to express their outrage over the atrocity of George Floyd’s death, and as we grieve other incidents of hate and violence perpetrated against people of color — from Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky to Tony McDade in Florida and Chris Cooper in New York, we are united in our anguish and anger.


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Message to CSU Pueblo campus community

Dr. Tim Mottet, President, CSU Pueblo

The events of the past week have exposed long-standing racial inequalities in ways that are shocking and undeniable.


People across our nation, in the state of Colorado, and right here in Pueblo have continued to unite in peaceful, but forceful protest against the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a public servant. As public servants ourselves, we take the responsibility entrusted to us seriously, and as a campus community, we condemn the hate and the violence that continues to be perpetuated against people of color, at the hands of violent individuals, groups, and organizations.


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Message to CSU Global community

Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker, President, CSU Global

The great community support networks that arose during the early days of COVID-19 were heartwarming and reflected the best of us as humans and as global citizens — all connected to defeat one terrible virus. And yet, today in our country we see that the racist behavior of a few can have awful and lasting consequences upon individuals, families, and communities, as it divides our nation.


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Summer is Near

Dr. Tony Frank, Chancellor, CSU System

Serendipity, the phenomenon of finding good things when you’re not looking for them, derives from an Arabian fable. But none of us who have experienced it doubt its reality.


It struck me the other evening while cheering myself up listening to some jazz. The lyric — “Winter is over, summer is near, are we stronger than we believe?” — struck a note of curiosity. I ran a Google search to see if the lyric was a quote. But I typed it with fat fingers and spell check did something to it, and the most brilliant AI platform of our time turned up news about George Floyd and racism in the United States.


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If you’re watching protests, remember it’s because there are real human beings, journalists, who are risking their lives to allow us to be eyewitnesses to history. These are just some of our former students in Denver, Minneapolis, Anchorage and all over the country, dodging all kinds of things, including a lot of hate directed at them, every night. Stay safe. @Alumni of Journalism and Media Communication at CSU.

Sarah Harlow Pooler, Senior Instructor, Department of Journalism and Media Communication at CSU in Fort Collins; CSU '86
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CSU University Communications Staff