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Open Letter to our Colleagues

We are collectively grieving over the injustice we witnessed with the death of George Floyd. Our hearts ache to see this tragedy, the latest in a long line of tragedies, pulling our nation apart with hatred, intolerance, racism, bigotry, and marginalization. This has left us feeling sad, angry, disgusted, frustrated, exhausted, maybe even paralyzed. We want to acknowledge how deeply this has touched each of us and also want you to know that we are concerned about you and your emotional wellbeing during this tumultuous time.

It is hard at a time like this to know how to channel our feelings and how to direct our emotions. So, first, we want to acknowledge that each of us needs time and space to process and reflect. President Sakaki has sent us her heartfelt message, as has Chancellor White and presidents from across the CSU. You can read their statements here:

In addition, our campus leaders, including our Chief of Police, Academic Senate, Staff Council and Associated Students have felt compelled to speak out. We are inspired by these statements and hope you find wisdom in their words.

Second, we want to add our voices to the collective and denounce racism, injustice, and systemic inequality. We stand by our campus values of social justice and equity. We support Black Lives Matter. We represent and welcome all people. We are a safe place to learn, live, and thrive. A&F will continue to partner across the campus to promote diversity, equity,inclusivity, acceptance, and social justice. We each have the opportunity to be leaders in our circles and to make this campus and our communities welcoming and safe places. Our division is composed of committed service-oriented employees
who care deeply about issues related to racial equality and justice.

How do we collectively take the next steps to bring about that better future? You can be a champion of critical thinkers, educators, thought leaders, and professionals from diverse backgrounds of this cause. To help on this journey, we ask everyone to remember, it is a moral obligation to listen with both our minds and our hearts. What we hear right now in this moment, is just as, if not more important, than what we say. Please consider lending your ears, your voice, your character, your reputation, and your leadership to listen deeply, as well as speak up, against racism and injustice. It is time to diligently seek out ways to affect change, as individuals and as an institution. We ask you to search your hearts and minds and find answers to these critical questions:

  • What does racial equality mean to you?
  • How can you better understand and advocate for black people and other marginalized groups within your circle of influence?
  • What would it take to transform our campus into a welcoming place for all?

We invite you to visit the SSU Center for Community Engagement’s Address Racial Injustice website, where you will find many resources to help you learn more and find your own way to take action.

We also invite you to join us in signing up for the Center for Community Engagement’s Call to Action. Anybody who signs up will be invited to share their ideas about what we can do at Sonoma State to address the racial injustice that permeates our society, violates Black bodies, and degrades Black lives.

Dr. Jerlena Griffin-Desta, SSU Chief Diversity Officer, is also available for confidential, one-on-one, non-judgemental conversation, meeting with staff teams and facilitating difficult dialogues. Please email Dr. Griffin-Desta to schedule time sends e-mail).

The following link offers additional tools for you to use as you consider these questions: 21-Day Racial and Equity Challenge - America & Moore.

As we look forward, we will schedule some noon time discussions for anyone to attend that would like to listen, learn, and discuss ways to join together to make a lasting change.

The Senior Leadership for Administration and Finance,
Joyce Lopes
Nicole Annaloro
Jeff Banks
Sarah Clegg
David Crozier
Christopher Dinno
Tyson Hill
Laura Lupei
Neil Markley
Dana Twedell
Jeff Weaver