JUNE 1: Message from President McPhee on Protests Over the Weekend
To the University community,
As you may already have heard from various media reports, the City of Murfreesboro, like many cities across the nation, experienced a protest Sunday in response to the death of George Floyd. At the end of the peaceful demonstration on the Square downtown, a smaller group came to our campus to protest in front of our ROTC building which, despite our efforts, still carries the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest. The student protest was peaceful and occurred without incident as they exercised their First Amendment rights.
As a person of color, and as a leader of a public institution, I think I have a unique perspective not only on the events set in motion by the killing of Mr. Floyd, but also the fear, hurt and frustration that this tragedy has invoked particularly within the African American community. I find myself struggling to put these events into proper perspective for my children and grandchildren. I also find myself tired as I am faced with trying to make sense as some who are sworn to protect us, regardless of race or ethnicity, once again stand accused of brutality, poor judgment and, now, murder of a citizen.
The loss of Mr. Floyd is a painful reminder that we have so much further to go in becoming more accepting and inclusive of all members of our community. It has triggered response and rage from so many who feel rightfully that our society must show care and concern for all of us, not just some of us.
I believe we should express our beliefs and our feelings, and that we must call for meaningful change – but not in a violent manner. The MTSU True Blue Pledge reflects our values that include:
- honesty and integrity;
- engagement in our community;
- respect for diversity;
- and commitment to reason, not violence.
Let me be clear: We deeply appreciate the responsible and dedicated law enforcement officers and first responders who work tirelessly in service to our communities. That is why I am so very proud of how our MTSU Police Department facilitated the peaceful demonstration on our campus in front of Forrest Hall late Sunday afternoon. Indeed, I was touched to see this video from The Daily News Journal of our police showing kindness and support.
I take solace and comfort, that MTSU first expressed our True Blue Values almost 10 years ago. As we try to make sense of this societal moment during an ongoing global pandemic virus already challenging us in unprecedented ways, I urge our community to renew and reflect upon our values and further apply them in actions and deeds — so that justice, equality and humanity are available to all.
Sidney A. McPhee