A Statement of Support and a Time for Action

UMB Students and Colleagues,

I write to you with a heavy heart and a continued conviction to confront individual and systemic forms of racism.

I join my colleagues at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in expressing grief and frustration about the many ways that racism continues to impact Black men, women, and children. The protests occurring locally, nationally, and globally are in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other individuals at the hands of police officers and people driven by hate. Our nation is at a boiling point because of the senseless killing of Black lives and inequities that disproportionately affect the Black community and Communities of Color.    

I know that this is a heart wrenching time for many in the Black community. Engage when and how you can. Find safe places and people who can help you through particularly tough moments. The Student Counseling Center is available to all students and has information on their website regarding the Steve Fund, a 24/7 resource dedicated to the mental health of Students of Color.

For anyone who wants to be a better ally - this is the time for learning, dialogue, and action. Lean into the discomfort when it comes to learning about white privilege, racism, and being anti-racist. If you feel uncomfortable talking about race and racism due to a lack of awareness, knowledge, or skills, I challenge you to reflect on areas where you can grow and learn about the experiences of individuals who may not identify as you. I do think you will feel more empowered and less fear engaging in conversations about race when you do this work. Take care of yourself during this process, and show care for members of the Black community – this may mean asking a friend or colleague how they are doing (and knowing when to give individuals space), not asking or expecting individuals to educate you, and doing the work.

Now more than ever, a plethora of resources are being shared via social media. I would encourage you to find books, articles, films, videos, and events you can participate in to become a better advocate and ally. Commit to lifelong learning to become more inclusive individuals and professionals. Be vigilant about interrupting incidents of bias and hate on a daily basis to create more just communities. 

Let us also embrace the UMB Core Values: Accountability, Civility, Collaboration, Diversity, Excellence, Knowledge, and Leadership. We can each point to many examples of how these values are lived at UMB – in ways that make us proud to be a part of this community. For me, examples include the phenomenal scholars and leaders who participated in the Social Justice Crisis in America Town Hall; the Face-to-Face with Dr. Jarrell and Ray Lewis focused on Nurturing Baltimore's Minds, Bodies, and Spirits; programming offered by the Office of Interprofessional Student Learning & Service Initiatives; the work of the Office of Community Engagement; the establishment of the inaugural Intercultural Leadership and Engagement Center; dialogue occurring among students; and statements being made by colleagues and student organizations. If we truly live these values in all aspects of our lives, we will create systemic change. Change doesn’t happen over night, but we are each in a position to create more welcoming environments and just communities.

Take care, 

Patty Alvarez, PhD, MS
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs