Dean Bill Boulding sent the following message to the Fuqua community on June 1, 2020:
Dear Fuqua Community,
I am writing this message after yet another night of turbulent social unrest. To see dozens of simultaneous protests in cities all over our country, some with the presence of the National Guard, shows just how deeply many of us are hurting.
To be honest, I have struggled with the right words to share during this moment. I spent the weekend trying to collect my thoughts, writing drafts, and iterating on the responsibility of our community as I watched events unfold in a way that made my words obsolete.
As I contemplated, I realized my appeal to you is straightforward: please help.
President Price wrote in his message this weekend that we must “continue the work of addressing generations of racism and injustice, of seeking ways to approach one another with respect, and of building communities that are truly safe, supportive, and inclusive for all.”
Our community is particularly suited to put those words into action.
This is an emotional time for all of us, but the reality is that some members of our community are disproportionately affected. Many of you have heard me say, a true leader combines IQ, EQ and DQ. DQ, or the Decency Quotient, means we go beyond empathizing to caring for and truly trying to do right by others. Decency requires that we offer our support when people we care for need help. Decency also requires that we actively speak out against racism and stand up in opposition to hatred and violence.
I know Black and African-American members of our community are tired, frightened, hurt and angry in the midst of a national landscape of repeated incidents of racial violence, which, tragically, continue. The most recent events--the traumatic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, along with the false accusations directed against Christian Cooper--are not isolated occurrences; instead, they sit in the context of a long history of disparate treatment by authorities toward Black and African-Americans. It is unspeakable and unacceptable that any member of our community feels unsafe in this country, and we cannot and will not tolerate the systemic racism that produces this seemingly unending cycle of violence and fear.
Words and actions matter. To live up to our responsibility as leaders in bringing people together with common purpose, we must remember our shared humanity and eradicate structural barriers/privileges that are frequently invisible to people who are granted privileges just because of the color of their skin. We need to be fair, just, and yes, decent.
For members of our community with first-responder loved ones, I imagine that you, too, must be feeling heightened levels of fear, anxiety, and confusion. It’s true that there have been a series of tragic events where public servants have violated a sacred trust. It is also true that by far the majority of first responders deserve our trust and respect. They have chosen a life of service to others that may sometimes put them in harm’s way. First responders deserve our admiration for having made that choice. However, we cannot tolerate those who violate that public trust. Nor can we turn a blind eye to persistent misbehavior in roles that are created to protect and serve our communities and are so vital to a well-functioning society.
So what do we do? First, and foremost, please reach out to those around you and let them know you love them, respect them and treasure them. Now, more than ever, we need you to put your high DQ to work. Don’t underestimate the power of an email, phone call, text message, or even a virtual meeting in affirming for people who are hurting that you are there for them. While this may seem like a small deed, and could even feel uncomfortable, actions such as these can go a long way to demonstrate thoughtfulness, compassion and decency.
Second, perhaps you disagree with some aspect of my message, or that I have communicated at all. That’s okay. We won’t necessarily agree with one another, but it is critical that we engage with one another. I am asking that each of us get out of our comfort zones to reflect on the experience of others in communities our friends and peers may belong to, that we do not. Put your high EQ to work by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. I’ve been inspired by the response within the Fuqua community in the past few weeks in this regard, as student organizations and staff leaders have been working on ways to deepen our conversations on race and allyship, encouraging the honest, candid and tough dialogue that will move us toward a better world.
At Fuqua we are surrounded by individuals who look, think, feel and act in different ways than ourselves. We are stronger, wiser, and better because of those differences. We have a shared identity--Team Fuqua--and we need to be sure that every person feels a sense of belonging, with full membership, on that team.
We will continue to meet with and listen to students, staff, faculty and alumni to determine how best to respond as a community. We welcome your input.
The time is now to act with the decency we so highly value in our community. Please let those who are hurting know that you see them, and that you are with them.
With care and concern,