The Department stands firmly with those who are fighting for change

June 3, 2020

Members of the URDP Community:

On behalf of the URDP staff and leadership, we wanted to reach out to you and offer this message of support and unity.

These past several days have been extraordinarily difficult. We have borne witness to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer while three other police officers stood silently by (and not yet charged). We have borne witness to the responses in our cities and towns across America as tens of thousands have taken to the streets to express their rage at an unjust system and frustration with change that has been promised but has still not come. And we have borne witness to elected leadership that has responded to these events not with compassion and commitment to justice but with cynicism, callousness, force, and oppression.

We have seen a lot over the last few days, and we must not stop looking.

The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated event. We’ve heard the names Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Delrawn Small dozens of times now because these names made it into the headlines. But what many of us may not have heard are the names of the other 1,252 Black people who have been killed by police since 2015. The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated event; it was part of a pattern and a culture that has tolerated the killing of Black people, and Black men in particular, even as we have condemned the individual acts themselves.

What the protests are saying loudly and unequivocally is that this must stop, and it must stop now.

These past days have reminded those of us who needed reminding that racism, oppression, injustice, and extrajudicial killings are not Black problems. They are not even police problems. They are in fact American problems and as such it is all of our responsibility – especially those with power and privilege – to work towards their solution. To this end, I am proud of our students and the members of our community who have taken up the cause of justice and who have committed themselves to the principle and fact that Black lives do indeed matter; who have participated in marches, served as allies, engaged in dialogue, and formed book groups and discussion boards to educate themselves and the people around them; and who have shown support and compassion to the their peers and fellow human beings during these very difficult days.

The Department of Urban Design and Planning stands firmly with those who are fighting for change. We recognize that as an educational institution we have a heightened responsibility in the struggle for a more just and equitable world. We also recognize that as urban planners we have the tools and skills to help bring this change about. To take up this cause is consistent with our values as a university, a department, a profession, and a community.

If you would like to support the Black community, here are a few ways you can:

  • Act Blue has set up this secure link, which will spread individual donations across more than a dozen bail funds across the country. If you cannot donate, you can watch this video; all of the ad revenue will be donated to BLM-supporting groups, bail funds, and other advocacy groups (divided as needed). The Eat Okra App (https://www.eatokra.com/) is an app that allows you to put in your city and find Black owned businesses near that you can support.
  • Consider forming a book group that will help you and your friends learn more about Black history, racism, equity, and the struggle for change in America. There are dozens of reading lists online as well as social media groups supporting discussions.
  • I also invite you to share resources with each other, with the department, and with your social media followings as you find them.

Finally, we want to make sure you are aware of the following campus resources. If you don’t find what you need here, please contact one of us.

  • You can talk to a professional through UW Mental Health. I recommend calling the Counseling Center (206.543.1240), or Hall Health Mental Health (206.543.5030) to get started.
  • You can apply for Emergency Aid. This aid is in addition to the CEP Scholarships that were awarded this quarter. Please mention your affiliation with the College of Built Environments in the circumstances section of the form.

We’d like to close with a quote from the most recent letter from President Ana Mari Cauce:

Periods of upheaval and crisis both test and reveal our character, as individuals, communities and nations. I’ve never been prouder of our faculty, students and staff, and I am confident that we can and will continue to learn and grow together, building toward a healthier future for all.

We could not agree more.

Very best,

Christopher, Diana, Karen, Larissa, Megan and Wendy