A Message from President Judd Regarding the Events of the Past Week

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Dear Members of the Sarah Lawrence Community,

On the College calendar, June 1 officially marks the start of the 2020-21 year, and offers a timely moment to pause and reflect on the past year. And what a year it has been. Last week as I began thinking about what I wanted to write to you today and, reflecting on the 2019-20 academic year, what emerged was a pervading sense of gratitude.

While that heartfelt gratitude remains, it was upended by the urgency of events ongoing and culminating this past week, so I have put that letter aside to share with you at a future date. At this moment I can only write to you with an overwhelming sense of mourning, of deep sorrow, of outrage, of anger.

Mourning, sorrow, outrage, and anger that the COVID-19 pandemic has so disproportionately affected communities of color, as we see our neighbors in the Bronx suffering among the highest per capita rates of infection and death.

Mourning, sorrow, outrage, and anger that a request from a birder in Central Park to put a dog on a leash escalated to a 9-1-1 call.

Mourning, sorrow, outrage, and anger at the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and, last week, George Floyd in an incident that has led to a police officer being charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Mourning, sorrow, outrage, and anger that these deaths are tragic reminders of the risks that come with being black in America.

Mourning, sorrow, outrage, and anger at national and individual denial and perpetuation of systemic racism and economic injustice and of the damage sowed and the division caused by that denial. We must face the hard truth that racism in America is the norm and confront the parts that each of us has and will play in changing this narrative.

Two years ago, at a meeting with our student senate, our student leaders asked me to publicly affirm that Black Lives Matter, that LGBTQ+ lives matter, and that Women’s Justice matters, which I emphatically did; it was important for this to be stated in a direct and unambiguous way then and it is important to state it now and to be held accountable for the work Sarah Lawrence still has to do to address the legacy of systemic racism and the perpetuation of inequities imbedded in our College and in our surrounding communities, even as we work to provide our students with the tools they need to lead change, and we see the work of our alumni on the front lines.

Naming injustice is not enough, but to ignore injustice is to perpetuate it.


Cristle Collins Judd

About Sarah Lawrence College

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence is a prestigious, coeducational liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the leading liberal arts colleges in the country. Sarah Lawrence is known for its pioneering approach to education, rich history of impassioned intellectual and civic engagement, and vibrant, successful alumni. In close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City, the historic campus is home to an intellectually curious and diverse community.