UM will host peaceful gathering to reflect, mourn, heal

Published 12:17 pm Monday, July 18, 2016

University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeff Vitter announced Monday the university will be gathering at 6 p.m. Thursday outside of the Paris-Yates Chapel for a time of reflection and unity due to the recent rash of killings in the nation and around the world.

“We want you to know that the university of Mississippi is firm in its resolve to be a place that is safe and supportive,” Vitter said.

The gathering is one of several community discourses that will be held around the university in the coming days and weeks to help and move forward.

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The following is a statement from Chancellor Vitter and the University of Mississippi Sensitivity and Respect Committee:

“The University of Mississippi vehemently condemns the recent acts of violence that have taken place in our nation, and we lend support and comfort to those affected by the killings in three states during the past two weeks. We mourn the loss of the two African-American males killed in Louisiana and Minnesota. We mourn the loss of the five police officers killed in Dallas. We mourn the loss of the law enforcement personnel killed in Baton Rogue. We stand in support of those in law enforcement in our community and across the country who put their lives in harm’s way every day to protect all citizens. We also stand in support of all people of color who endure unwarranted prejudice, targeting, and injustice.

We recognize that our university’s African-American community, people of other races, and law enforcement personnel are dealing with these tragic incidents in myriad ways, and we pledge our support. We want each member of this community to know that we support you as you seek to understand these incidents and determine the best way to move forward.

As an academic institution, we realize that education will serve as a key component to prevent future occurrences of such acts as well as serve as a healing mechanism for our community. We ask all members of our campus to join in applying the most effective tool of the educator — civil dialogue — in addressing the issues leading up to these disturbing events and processing our emotions and reactions to these tragedies.

However, civil dialogue will mean nothing if it does not lead to change for the better, and it will be our students who will be at the forefront of that change.

As Chancellor Vitter stated in a recent post: “We are all bound together by the human need to be known, understood, and valued. At the University of Mississippi, we embody these mutual commitments to one another in the UM Creed, a part of which states our belief in fairness and civility and in the respect for the dignity of each person. I urge all members of the UM family to embody these beliefs as we reach out to one another in the coming days.”

We also would like to remind all campus community members of university policies and of the resources available should they be needed. These recent events have evoked a number of painful emotions among many on our campus.  Please do not feel insecure or ashamed about seeking assistance from our university’s support services.

Our university is marked by care for one another, respect for one another, and a genuine desire to understand one another. We will all get through these difficult days and emerge stronger and more unified by staying true to our Creed.”