Our Challenge in a Time of Crisis

June 1, 2020

Dear Friends,

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to restore campus operations, our nation has been rocked by acts of violence and ensuing unrest and disruption that have now occurred here in Boston. We are confronted, once again, by the grim reality of systemic racism in our country. The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others bring to the forefront these abhorrent elements in our society. At a time when we rely on our police more than ever, we watch painful examples of some officers breaking the public trust in the most egregious ways. These injustices are amplified by the vividly disparate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans in particular, as well as on other ethnic or minority communities.

We grieve for our country and those who are affected by systemic racism, just as we grieve for those afflicted by COVID-19. We will defeat COVID-19 using science and our collective will. We must commit the same will and energy to defeat systemic racism. We must reject the forces in our society that are driving us apart and commit ourselves to creating a just society.

In the current troubled climate, I believe our commitment to restoring our residential campus is made all the more important by the divisions in our country. We are working nonstop to restore campus operations for the fall and will shortly make more detailed announcements about this effort. This is critical because our residential community brings together students from every background to live and learn together, with our faculty, in an atmosphere that promotes mutual understanding and respect. And we are continually working to do this better for all members of the Boston University community. As I write you today, I recall the two months last spring when we witnessed the uniting effect on our community of the expanded Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, before campus life was abruptly interrupted by the virus. Our return to our residential campus and our personal interactions with one another that are not mediated by a computer screen is essential to the critical work we must undertake to build a campus, a community, and a society that is free from systemic racism.

When we return to Commonwealth Avenue, life on campus will not look or be the same as it was last fall, but we can create a learning community that preserves Boston University as a beacon for the country and world. Such beacons are desperately needed in our country today. I look forward to welcoming you back to campus.


Robert A. Brown signature
Robert A. Brown