Message from the Chief Diversity Officer: Commemorating Pride Month, Juneteenth & Memorial Day

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Dear App State Community,

I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the chief diversity officer at App State. Thank you to Chancellor Everts for championing this work for our university, and to all who prioritize and support diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus. We all play a role in this work.

We seek to support one another as our campus shares in the horror and loss of 19 children and two teachers in a school shooting in the predominantly Latinx community of Uvalde, Texas, and 10 Black Americans in the grocery store shooting this month in Buffalo, New York. The impacts of these violent acts are still developing and are magnified by other acts of hate that we have collectively mourned this year: shootings that took place at a synagogue in Texas, in a subway in New York and at a California church. We recognize the collective trauma these atrocities have and continue to create for members of our community, and we want you to be aware of some key resources we have available for App State students, faculty and staff:

Additionally, tomorrow, May 27, App State’s James Center for Student Success and Advising is hosting a community meditation session as an opportunity for all App State students, faculty and staff who wish to come together for a restorative community experience.

In remembrance of all victims and survivors of acts of hate and violence, App State will hold a Unity Vigil, open to the App State and local communities, as part of our university’s Juneteenth event on Wednesday, June 15, at 9 a.m., by the National Pan-Hellenic Council Plots and Garden on campus. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. In more recent years, Juneteenth has evolved into a celebration of Black pride and an awareness of social issues impacting the Black community. App State’s 2022 Juneteenth event will take place on Wednesday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

App State will continue our long history of commemorating Memorial Day to honor those who have died while serving our country in the military, to recognize their sacrifice and to remember the losses suffered by their families and loved ones. This is an important day for many in our Mountaineer community, and we observe this occasion at App State by laying a wreath at the on-campus Veterans Memorial each year. Chancellor Everts selects those who will lay the wreath, a tradition that has taken place on App State’s campus since 2018.

In June, App State acknowledges Pride Month, which recognizes our LGBTQ+ community. Our university community works to support LGBTQ+ individuals in many ways, including through the Henderson Springs LGBT Center, which offers support related to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender life at App State, and through policies such as the Chosen First Name Initiative, which allows App State students, faculty and staff to use a chosen first name that is different from their legal first name for certain purposes, regardless of whether or not they have legally changed their name.

I hope you can take part in these important observances over the next month. And, with a new university strategic plan on the horizon, I look forward to seeing a vibrant, inclusive and supportive campus culture continue to grow and flourish.

Sincerely,

/s/ Jamie Parson, J.D.

Jamie Parson, J.D.