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A message from President Harrison to the Columbus State community

Campus News | Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dear Columbus State Community,

Angry, outraged, heartbroken… Like everyone, I have been processing my emotions and my response to the murder of George Floyd and the aftermath in our nation and in Columbus, both as a white man and as a leader. I still am. We’re facing crisis on top of crisis, each of which is disproportionately impacting our sisters and brothers of color. Simply issuing a statement is not nearly enough, but the first step to solving any problem is to call it what it is. Racism is a public health crisis, a pervasive, toxic threat. That is what I and a growing list of Columbus business and organization leaders asserted in an open letter to Columbus City Council. Among other things, the letter states:

We are profoundly outraged and heartbroken that our fellow citizens continue to see themselves in the anguished face of George Floyd pleading for air under the knee of a white man sworn to protect; hear themselves in the nervous voice of Christian Cooper, a bird watcher whose skin tone is suddenly used to falsely suggest he is a threat; and, in the experiences of countless more Americans of color, so frequently demeaned, threatened and physically harmed. We hope and believe the Resolution will appropriately bring increased government and private-sector attention to these persistent and systemic issues.

The full letter can be found here.

I’m grateful to our colleagues who have asserted important and rapid leadership. Royce Carpenter and Michelle Baker, co-chairs of our African American Employee Resource Group, are hosting nightly forums for student, faculty, and staff this week to share ideas and discuss actions. Check your Columbus State email for details on how to participate.

I know our people are hurting. The physical separation forced by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced real isolation on so many in our community, compounding a terribly painful situation. We need to be there for each other online, on the phone, in spirit. We also have college resources to offer, and I want to make sure you’re aware of them. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all full-time and part-time employees. Mental Health America can provide links to mental health professionals at no cost to the recipient. Other resources are also available—please reach out to your HR business partner for more information.

For students, Counseling Services can make connections via the phone or WebEx for counseling sessions and consultations. Students can call Counseling Services at 614-287-2818 or email to set up appointments. Counseling Services also has a smartphone app available in the App Store and Google Play store; just search for “Hope and Help.”

I believe Columbus State can and must be an important part of the solution to structural racism. And I know we have work to do. Please join one of this week’s forums, or contact me directly. I appreciate those of you who already have. This is the most important work we will do. I look forward to doing it together.

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