Dear Rutgers University – Newark community members,
As I write barely a month into the new year, our nation has been shaken by a horrifying and bewildering series of violent incidents that rightly cause many of us to question our safety both personally and collectively. We share the shock and empathize with the excruciating pain felt in communities from Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay to Uvalde to Buffalo, and too many others from coast to coast, living through the nightmarish aftermath of mass shootings. We are viscerally repulsed by the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, which caused the police chief to struggle for words to describe her own revulsion at what they did. The implication of identity-based motives in many of these incidents—whether explicitly or underlyingly—hits particularly hard in a community such as ours.
We may not be fully aware, ourselves, of the toll that these incidents take on us, so I urge all members of our community to be mindful about self-care and make use of the resources available for support. Our Counseling Center stands at the ready to support our students and Employee Counseling is available to all faculty and staff members.
I share grave concerns about how frayed the fabric of our society has become. At the same time, I find hope in the work that many members of the Rutgers-Newark community are doing with many partners across our city to forge inter-group trust by forging a common sense of purpose through collective action on issues of safety and security. I see that in the Data-Informed Community Engagement work of the Newark Public Safety Collaborative, which brings together School of Criminal Justice researchers with the Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention, the Newark Community Street Team, community-based organizations, and law enforcement to put actionable data in the hands of community stakeholders that empowers them to guide safety efforts focused on the environmental factors where crime occurs rather than who is involved. I see it in the remarkable work of our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center, which is facilitating intergroup dialogues in communities across the state. And I see it in the work done right here on our campus in the community policing partnerships forged by Rutgers University Police Department with our Division of Student Affairs and numerous academic and administrative offices.
All of this is hard work. That is what it takes to repair communities and repair a nation driven by injuries and divisions that we have only just begun to surface. Let us resolve to see it through together.
In solidarity,
Nancy Cantor
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor