Dear Binghamton University Community,
The past several months have been very difficult and troubling, traumatic even, especially for Binghamton’s Black students, faculty and staff. We’ve learned about the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and, through video, we have witnessed the horrifying deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Disturbing details regarding the death of Breonna Taylor have shocked our consciences. These events are only the most recent in a long history of violence against Black Americans and have caused our cultural community a great deal of pain. As a premier educational institution, our goal must be to make our campus a place where everyone feels that they belong and supported in their efforts to excel.
Legislative proposals by New York state at https://www.governor.ny.gov/ news/governor-cuomo-lays-out- say-their-name-reform-agenda- priorities-following-killing- george-floyd and the NAACP at https://www.naacp.org/latest/ update-naacp-demands/ call for sweeping police reform through federal and state legislation that mandates a zero-tolerance approach when penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent and non-resisting individuals in an arrest.
Not only do we support these calls for change, but our campus will take action on them by immediately applying them to our police department and personnel. In alignment with these proposals, we will establish a Campus Citizens Review Board, composed of students, faculty and staff, that will be charged with reviewing and improving the Binghamton University Police Department’s policies, procedures and practice. I am dedicated to creating this board and will work with the campus community toward decisive action. We encourage all other local and regional police agencies to follow this lead.
Also, with input from the Campus Citizens Review Board, we will reallocate a proportion of funds from the police department to other campus services that are more appropriate to respond to campus emergencies related to issues such as mental health.
We are also committed to the academic success of the Black community. Therefore, the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship has been established to support future African American leaders who seek racial justice and endeavor to make a positive impact on the world. An endowment of $1.5 million will be used to provide financial support to deserving students. In addition, to attract and support underrepresented graduate students, we will reallocate funds to add $200,000 to the annual budget for the Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellowships for Graduate Students on our campus.
Our alumni and supporters have a tradition of civic engagement and financial support to our students. We see no better way for them to put their values into action than to support these efforts. We will make the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship a funding priority, seeking additional donations to increase its impact.
The initiatives put forth are just the beginning, but I hope that — together — we will realize a society where Black Lives Matter.