In support and solidarity

Dear Moody Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As communication scholars, practitioners and students, we understand the power of our collective voice, and we must not remain silent in the face of intolerance and injustice.

Please read the important message below from Ya’Ke Smith, our Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, written in collaboration with other Diversity and Inclusion Officers from throughout UT Austin. I share their feelings of profound grief and horror at the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others targeted because of their race.

Moody College is firmly committed to a culture of inclusion and equity, and we must ensure that our actions match our words. We should look within ourselves, as well as at our programs and systems, to make real changes that promote tolerance and inclusion of all voices and perspectives. We should channel our feelings to draw closer as a community to do everything in our power to build a culture where everyone feels safe, valued and welcome.  And, as noted below, we should reach out and support each other, especially those in our community who are understandably feeling fear and outrage from these horrifying acts. 

Together, our Moody Family can make a difference, for each other, and for the world.


Respectfully yours, 

Dean Jay Bernhardt 

As diversity officers at the University of Texas at Austin, we are grieved, horrified, saddened by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, as well as countless others who have lost their lives to acts of racial violence. These egregious acts of racial profiling, physical violence, and death of Black individuals are taking place against a backdrop of a global pandemic that places in bold relief the wrenching inequities that have divided our nation as the virus disproportionately ravages communities of color. 

We recognize that we are experiencing more than just a moment of discomfort and discontent. Our nation's dark history has led to this critical moment in time. This is a history that we must grapple with, as we collectively struggle to move forward together. 

As diversity officers we want our community and particularly its Black members, many of whom grew up in the same city as George Floyd and may have known him or his people, to know that we are here for you. We understand that these recent senseless events are triggering, tragic, and a stark reminder that Black lives are fragile and can be stolen from us at any moment.

We urge everyone to remember that if one of us is hurting, then we all hurt. Our silence in the face of injustice sends a negative message to the most vulnerable members of our university community. Now, more than ever, we reaffirm and reinvigorate our commitment to supporting an equitable, inclusive, and just institution in which violence, hate, and intolerance are not accepted and are actively combatted. 

We encourage all members of our university community to check in on and support each other, recognizing that these recent events differently impact our students and colleagues in very deep and personal ways.  

We also encourage our community members to reach out directly to their college or school’s diversity officer for any support, guidance, and resources that they may need.


In Support and Solidarity,

The Coalition of Diversity and Inclusion Officers, University of Texas at Austin

Ya’Ke Smith
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion