Friday, June 5

Dear Auburn Family,

The events of the past 10 days have been painful for me and, I’m certain, for every member of the Auburn Family. The pain of yet another brutal death on our streets; the pain of rights infringed during peaceful protest; the pain of fear; and the pain of frustration, wondering if anything will ever change.

While we all have a lot of questions, it is clear that something has to change, both in society and on our campus. As your president, I commit that we as an institution will seek meaningful action to confront the pain, fear, systemic racism and injustice faced by the black community.

In the past week, many courses of action have been proposed, including ridding campus of hurtful symbols, creating campus-wide conversations, building relevant coursework and training, and strengthening recruitment of African American students and faculty. Just this morning, I listened to concerns and recommendations from a group of African American student leaders who represent many areas of campus. Their love for Auburn is sincere, and their thoughts for moving forward are heartfelt and constructive. I came away with renewed sensitivity to the state of the nation and our university and an enhanced sense of urgency for positive change.

There will be more conversations, involving students, faculty, staff and alumni. These conversations will lead to learning that will lead to action.

In the near term, I will form a task force to guide the university through meaningful change. Members of the task force will be asked to gather ideas from the Auburn Family, prioritize next steps, develop implementation plans and hold us accountable as a university. We will soon provide more information.

As we chart a course of action, I call on all students, faculty and staff to embrace a number of imperatives:

  1. We must be honest with each other and recognize that discrimination against African Americans and other people of color exists and is wrong. There is hate that is festering.  We can and must do something about it.

  2. We must remember that silence is not acceptable. When we see something wrong, we must speak up.

  3. We must treat all people with respect and civility as individuals, not as groups.

  4. We must demand that all laws of the land are administered fairly and equally.

  5. We must listen to the voices of those who have been disenfranchised and do what we can to help.

In the past, Auburn has done some things right, and we’ve done some things wrong. We need to do more. We will work together, and we will do better.


Jay Gogue