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Community Forums: An Invitation to Join the Dialogue

Dear University of Akron Students, Staff, Faculty, Alumni and Community Partners,

The Office of Inclusion and Equity is an important point of entry for the discussion of issues of discrimination and is the campus core for promoting an inclusive environment where embracing difference is the rule rather than the exception. We are striving to create a niche to be a focal point for candid, critical conversations, addressing unconscious bias and dampening the impact of institutionalized racism. In light of the many events that have happened over the past several months, I want to offer the resources of the Office of Inclusion and Equity to the campus and local community to continue the important dialogue that has enfolded our nation.

The impact of these events has heightened emotions and left us grieving the senseless loss of life and wondering, “What can we do?” As a great public university, The University of Akron is a diverse community and we must serve our faculty, staff and students standing in solidarity with all who unequivocally condemn hatred, racism, bigotry, violence, intimidation and any other attempt to divide us. We must leverage the best of UA, the strengths that unite us including our brilliant faculty, our dedicated and compassionate staff and administrators, and our courageous and industrious students. We must unite in collective thought and employ our innovative thinking to develop our individual and collective responses. Although solutions will not come overnight, we must join our rightly placed hearts and ensure that we pave a way for our students to be more compassionate and empathic citizens who are empowered to use their voices in the quest for racial equity and social justice. If you are confused or wondering about the details of what happened and why there have been such sensitive and passionate reactions by some of your friends, neighbors and colleagues, we would like to embrace the teachable moment, help you gain an understanding and invite you to engage in the dialogue.

The COVID-19 public health crisis has created a departure from normal. The disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on communities of color has been exacerbated by additional tragic deaths. Following the senseless loss last week of George Floyd, the man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we are disheartened by those wielding privilege with impunity and restricting the individual freedom to have our lives matter as we pursue the blessings of liberty and happiness for all men, women and children that the best of our nation guarantees.

Please connect with us if you have concerns or need support. We would like to offer a discussion forum in the next several days and the opportunity to engage with others around all of these recent events. The Community Forums will be held on Thursday, June 4, at 5 p.m., Friday, June 5, at 3 p.m. and Tuesday, June 9, at 1 p.m. A link to the virtual meetings will be sent out via the Digest and Zipmail.

Maya Angelou once said, “Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself. Then stand up for somebody else.” We are here for you. We are Akron. Let’s stand together!

Sincerely,

Jolene A. Lane,
Ed.M. Vice President for Inclusion and Equity,
Chief Diversity Officer The University of Akron      

Mental Health Resources

• The University of Akron Counseling & Testing Center, Simmons Hall 306, 330-972-7082.

• The University of Akron, Wayne College, Counseling and Accessibility Services, Wayne College and Boyer HPE Building, B112, Wayne College, Orville OH 330-972-8767.

• The UA Department of Psychology Counseling Clinic 330-972-6714

• The UA Clinic for Individual and Family Counseling, 27 S. Forge Street, 2nd floor, Akron, OH 44325 Phone: 330-972-6822, indfamclinic@uakron.edu

• Victim Assistance Program (Community) 330-376-0040

• Counseling Center for Wayne and Holmes Counties (Community) 330-264-9029

• Greenleaf Family Center (Community), 580 Grant Street, Akron, OH 44311