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Departmental Response to National Events

A Message from the Chair

June 5th, 2020

Dear APS – I hope that all of you are doing…well. I say this with trepidation knowing that I am not. I am at times angry, exhausted, confused and worried.

The COVID issues continue, with a confusing mix of an unchanged landscape of infection and disease severity, along with an optimism that comes from a wish to return to normalcy. We need to stay focused on what is real and what is hope, recognize the difference, and hold hands to take care of each other as we move from a return to research now to a return to classes in the fall. We need to continue this communication and care.

But it is the tragedy of social injustice that has caused my range of emotions. The murder of George Floyd was shocking to the US and the world, but only to those that do not live the daily reality of racism. I do not. The protests that have rocked the country are the latest immediate response, but they erupt from a long history of injustice. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rodney King, the unnamed woman whipped by Julian Carr at the unveiling of Silent Sam, and on and on. Some of these seem far away – but George Floyd was born in Fayetteville NC, and Carr unleashed his violence on the doorstep of our campus. And for many the experience is not history nor a headline but a part of their daily life today.

I am pleased that UNC as said the right words in this past week, and I list below some of those responses and resources. But it will be our sustained commitment to action between fires of outrage that truly moves us to a new place. We in APS have over the past year renewed our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We seek to build a community and culture of safety and support so that all of you can flourish. This is our first duty. But as a great university, we are also called upon to serve the state of NC, the country and the world. It is the role of a university to move beyond our own lives so that we may grow justice in the world.

If you feel threatened by what is happening, please let us know how we may help. If you have ideas for contributions to justice that should become action within UNC and APS, I want to hear. We should measure ourselves by where we are a year from now when the streets are quiet. We must turn this turmoil to resolve.

Be well,
Rich Superfine
Chair, Department of Applied Physical Sciences