A Message From Chancellor Rogers on Supporting the ECU Community | Beaufort County Now | East Carolina University is preparing to bring another academic semester to a close.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services.

    ECU Community:

    East Carolina University is preparing to bring another academic semester to a close. And while we look ahead with hopeful optimism for summer vacations and more available vaccination options, we must not forget all that we have endured. As a country, as Pirate Nation, as families and as individuals, the past year has pushed many to their limits.

    COVID-19 presented challenges the likes we have not seen in our lifetime and hope to never see again. The pandemic has consumed us for a year, but racial tensions and injustice have existed for centuries. We are reminded of this almost daily as incidents happen all over the country. The increased racial stress, anxiety and emotional strain is visible in our community as well.

    As our nation anticipates the outcome of the Chauvin trial later today, we see the pain in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and other communities as well as in our own state. No matter the outcome of the trial, we stand with those working to make our country a better place for all its citizens and those trying to heal our communities rather than further divide them.

    One of the foundational elements of ECU has been that of a Leadership University and part of that definition is to inspire, empower and influence positive change. One person at a time, with one voice, one action and one intentional effort, we strive to inspire and empower others, but most of all, we strive to influence positive change. Our ECU Creed states, "I will engage in purposeful citizenship by serving as a positive role model."

    ECUnited was started in 2016 by a student leader (Janae Brown, a 2017 graduate) who saw the world crumbling around her. She took initiative to create a sense of belongingness for all people on our campus and said, "Let's start here, let's create positive change at ECU and let's become one united campus fighting for each other." We can become ECUnited, focused intentionally on making this community a better place. As an institution of higher education, our faculty and staff often are the ones teaching others, but our students are leaders, and we must support and learn from them, too.

    We encourage you to join in the institutional anti-racism campaign, Pledge to Act Against Racism and Injustice, which invites individuals to commit to working for social, cultural, and structural change. This program provides a framework, resources, and other support for action-oriented steps ECU faculty and staff can take to act against racism and injustice.

    I want to note two upcoming opportunities to provide support for minoritized groups dealing with tragic injustices. The Division of Student Affairs plans a Cupola Conversation: Reflecting on a Year of Loss at 4 p.m. Monday, April 26 that will allow students and employees to share personal reflections and memories from the past year. Also, in collaboration with the College of Health and Human Performance, the Office of Equity and Diversity will provide community group discussions to support dialogue, healing and community-building for faculty and staff to discuss the recent events and headlines that are creating anxiety, fear, sadness or trauma. The first session will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 29.

    As we continue our efforts to build community, nurture trust and respect, and engage in civil discourse, we encourage our students, faculty and staff to take advantage of our many resources, services and programs.

    For students:

    The strain of the pandemic and pain related to racial tensions and injustice may have you feeling overwhelmed. Remember there are resources and services available through the Center for Counseling & Student Development and the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.

    For Faculty and Staff:

    ECU employees and their dependents may seek confidential counseling support, resources, and services with the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

    Additional Resources:

    ECU remains committed to providing a safe place where freedom of expression means something. We don't want to stifle thought, opinion or expressive activity. In fact, we support it and encourage it. But it also must be done with respect and civility. I encourage you to visit ECU Freedom of Expression website to learn more.

    Faculty, staff and students may also contact the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Office of the University Ombuds. Other programs and opportunities to learn, connect and share can be found on Engage.

    As the pandemic becomes a part of the past, we must not forget that the past pain in our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities is still very much part of the present. The future of ECU is bright. That's why I decided to come back home to Pirate Nation. ECU can be the shining light that drives change on our campuses, in our community and across our region.

    Our commitment and responsibility to cultivate an inclusive campus is authentic; our actions must be steadfast and continuous. To be better than we are today, we must be future focused.

    –Chancellor Philip G. Rogers
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