William and Mary Administration Needs to Stand Up

William and Mary Administration Needs to Stand Up

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Salli Sanfo started this petition to William and Mary

To President Rowe, Chief Cheesebro, the Board of Visitors, Chancellor Gates, Provost Agouris, the W&M Community, and anyone who lends their ear to listen:


Your students are hurting.


By now I am sure you have heard about the murder of George Floyd that was caught on video, as millions around the world have witnessed the trauma of seeing a life ended by the very members of a force that was supposed to protect that life. 

This is the latest tragedy in a story that’s becoming all too normal: the lives of innocent United States citizens who have been killed by the very people who were supposed to protect them—all due to biases formed based on these individuals' race. 


As a school that was literally built off of the backs of Black slaves, a school that fought to defend slavery during the civil war, a school that stood silent during the Civil Rights Movement, and one of the last schools in VA to integrate—it is our job to constantly speak out against racism in any system, especially since our school has played a large part in the creation and upholding of it. 

Standing up for black lives means standing up when it’s uncomfortable to do so. It means standing up when others may disagree. It means standing with your black students in a time where your support will reassure them that although you’ve been on the heinous side of history at one point, you no longer intend on staying there. 


Standing alongside your black students also means asking questions about the role each of us plays in the upholding of racist, ancient ideals that our university was founded upon. A statue means nothing if black citizens are still being slaughtered in our streets, being racially profiled, or even afraid to leave their house in fear of losing their life.

Dr. Martin Luther King said that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To further clarify, he also said "A riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?". We are not asking our community to approve or accept the current violent situation in our cities, rather we are asking them to ask themselves why people are so angry. We are asking them to sit down and reflect on themselves and the role they play in race relations in America—because every American plays a role in it. 


Today, we are asking William & Mary to start re-writing its narrative. More so, we are asking you, as the administration, to release a press statement that dismantles, yet further amplifies the injustice of the murder of George Floyd. A press statement would redefine what this school and students stand for, and clearly define who they stand with. It will also be a domino effect, as other Virginia colleges and universities would follow your lead—something that William & Mary is profoundly known for, developing leaders. We also want to have the assurance that nothing like this unjustifiable situation will ever happen in our communities at the hands of the William & Mary Police Department. We hope that this activism will continue online, offline, and on any platform, we have as a community. We can not afford to be on the wrong side of history again. Failure to gain your support, students will act accordingly—we hope you make the right decision and use your privilege, renown image, and voice to publicly advocate for your students. 

Best,

Salimata Sanfo and  Alton Coston III
 
 
 


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