Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Dean's Message: Reflections on George Floyd Murder Verdict

Laura Haas
Dean Laura Haas

CICS students, faculty, and staff, 

Last year, George Floyd was killed at the hands of a Minnesota police officer while bystanders, helpless to intervene, documented the tragedy. George Floyd's murder reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, spurred nationwide protests, and became the catalyst for important conversations and self-education around race, inequality, and policing in America.

Yesterday, with the help of damning video footage recorded by a heroic teenager on her phone, George Floyd's killer was found guilty on three counts. However, as others have said in the wake of yesterday's decision, the verdicts are "accountability, not justice." True justice for George Floyd and the many others who have been killed or brutalized by police will only be served when we confront and rectify systemic racism and oppression in our country. 

As Vice President Kamala Harris said,  "A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do." Racism in all its forms, whether it's targeting Black or Asian-American citizens, runs deep in this country and it will take sustained and deliberate effort to root it out. That's why, as a university and a college, we need to take this opportunity to enact real and positive change towards a more equitable and just society. 

In the College of Information and Computer Sciences, this means building on the work we have started to address racism and inequality, and to build a more inclusive community:  

  • Convened the Committee Against Racism and for Equity (CARE), a group of staff, faculty and students who have worked tirelessly to make our college more inclusive, launching seven different projects to improve our admissions practices, teaching, and community life. 

  • Teaching faculty Neena Thota and Michele Trim received grants to increase undergraduate participation in research that target populations underrepresented in computing, including BIPOC, female, and LGBTQIA+ students. 

  • Hosted book groups and community forums to promote self-education, foster conversations and spur action. 

  • Created a diversity and inclusion bi-weekly e-newsletter, "You Belong in CICS," the student-led Humans of CICS Instagram account, and the "Our Stories" series to highlight the diversity in our community through storytelling. 

As the CARE committee completes their first academic year of work, we will gather together on May 4 to celebrate our accomplishments and re-dedicate ourselves to continuing the fight against racism, and for equity and inclusiveness in our college.

Until then, if you need assistance or support, please see the list of resources below or email Erika Dawson Head (erikahead@cics.umass.edu), director of diversity and inclusive community development, to set up an appointment.  

In solidarity, 

Laura Haas 


Resources and Communities of Support: 

Always Forward: A Drop-In Support Group for BIPOC Students
Every Thursday at 4:00 p.m. EDT 

HOLDING SPACE: Listen, Learn, Connect
This space is for listening and showing up for one another, sharing our experiences and emotional reactions, validating each other's emotions and experiences, connecting as members of the UMass Amherst community (both off-campus and on-campus students), and sharing resources for support. 
April 26, 6:00 p.m. EDT

Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH)
CCPH is staffed by licensed mental health providers and is available 24 hours a day to provide crisis intervention services and assessment. CCPH offers a number of psychological and mental health consulting services, including a group for students of color every Thursday at 4 p.m.
Phone: 413-545-2337

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)
The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is a free and confidential counseling, consultation and referral service.
Phone: 413-545-0350

Center for Multicultural Advancement & Student Success (CMASS)
CMASS supports the student success and sense of belonging of first-generation, students of color, multiracial students, and low-income students. 

Dean of Students Office
The Dean of Students Office responds to individual student needs and concerns, providing the support, resources and referrals they may need.
Phone: 413-545-2684