Pain, Protests, Healing: A Message from SMC President Kathryn E. Jeffery

This message was sent from Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery to the Santa Monica College community on May 31, 2020.

SMC students, colleagues, community,

The past few months have been very challenging with the complexities of dealing with and managing through the threat and effects of COVID-19. Even the pandemic pales in comparison to the horror that we witnessed in the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man in Minneapolis. The disregard for his life laid bare racism that is blatant and inexcusable. This is a time of great anxiety and pain for many in our community, especially for anyone who has been a target of racism, bigotry, or the many forms of hate that flourish in this world.

Community protests against violence and bigotry enable outraged individuals and groups to safely speak up and speak out against the inhuman disregard for Black life displayed in Minneapolis and in too many other cities across America. Protesting all forms of hate and intolerance allows us to exercise our First Amendment rights. Exercising that freedom peacefully demonstrates outrage over the status quo and promotes much needed change.

I understand, and applaud, those who have spoken out to denounce the actions of the police officers involved. We must all speak up that this is not acceptable; however, to be heard and understood, we need to speak out, and protest if you choose, peaceably. For the sake of the safety of each and every member of our community and the health of our cities and our nation, I ask that those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right, do so peacefully.

Santa Monica College values our diverse community and seeks to realize its goals of equity and inclusion, as expressed by our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and administrators. SMC provides many resources to support students and staff who want to express their feelings of outrage and anxiety. Students may contact Black Collegians and the Adelante Program by calling the SMC counseling department at 310-434-4210 to speak in confidence. Also, SMC students may call our 24/7 emotional support hotline at: (800) 691-6003. SMC employees may contact the EASE 24/7 Hotline- 1-800-882-1341. Moreover, the college is working with multiple units and departments to create virtual reflection spaces for students, staff and faculty to process their emotions around these horrific events. More information will be sent on this in the coming days.

I lived and worked in the community that George Floyd called home. To see the video footage of his death has been deeply unsettling. I am saddened, angered, disgusted. And I am determined that this only strengthens my resolve to strive for a better future. As the president of Santa Monica College, I take seriously my role as a college and community leader. Together, Santa Monica College employees and students can help overcome the forces of hate in our community, nation, and the world. If you participate in a public protest, I sincerely urge you to use your energy and your education to become community organizers, civic and elected leaders, professionals, and neighbors who work for change. Help make today's racism a tragedy of the past.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and all at SMC, please stay safe. Remember COVID-19 remains a public health concern. And know that Santa Monica College is here for you.

Proud to be SMC,

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D.
Superintendent/President

Nancy Greenstein, Ed.D.
Chair, Board of Trustees