Local colleges make statements on death of George Floyd, others

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
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James Madison University, Bridgewater College, Mary Baldwin and Eastern Mennonite University all made statements on the death of George Floyd and recent racial unrest in America in support of the black community on Monday.

"Particularly at Eastern Mennonite University, where we are a peace and justice faith based liberal arts college, this cuts us to the bone," EMU president Susan Schultz Huxman told WHSV on Monday.

Schultz Huxman wrote

, quoting scripture and civil rights leaders, while also expressing sympathy for the George Floyd's death.

Schultz Huxman says it's a tough time for the black community, that has already been disproportionately negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

"All of these things have impacted communities of color even more deeply and so you have that as already a major crisis," Schultz Huxman said. "You put on top of it some of the recent incidents in Minneapolis, in Kentucky, in Florida."

About one-third of EMU's students are people of color, the highest percentage of the four universities mentioned in this article. In the 1940s, EMU became the first school in Virginia to accept a black student. Now, Schultz Huxman said, it's time for EMU and others to learn and listen.

"This is an opportunity for us to listen and to collaborate," Schultz Huxman said. "We do have not only plans in terms of on the enrollment front, but even our board of trustees, a real sense of commitment to diversity there as well."

was a letter from president David Bushman. Bushman also addressed racism, citing the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Floyd.

Bushman wrote that "we face again the consequences of racism and our society’s collective failure to recognize the dignity of every person," and also wrote, "while our attention may have been focused on the pandemic, the underlying realities of inequality have never gone away and have been manifested now in unspeakable ways."

Bushman recommended that students reach out to the Bridgewater College CARE team, that according to the college's website is "a college-wide reporting system for the care and support of students," if they have any issues.

was sent by president Jonathan Alger to all JMU students on Sunday, according to JMU's website. Alger also mentioned recent incidents, writing that they've "resulted from our collective failure to live up to the promise of a democracy that is of, by, and for the people — all the people." Alger wrote that JMU will be hosting virtual events to address recent events.

Mary Baldwin also

, mourning the death of Floyd. In an e-mail to WHSV, a university representative said "MBU's commitment to social justice and inclusivity is constant and ingrained in our curriculum, our policies, and our programming through such groups as the Spencer Center for Civic and Global and Engagement, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, the arts, and elsewhere across our campus."

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