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Message of solidarity from Tyler Walters, Dean:

Dear University Libraries community and Hokie Nation,

I hope you have had the opportunity to read the statement by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke. To say we are in challenging times is a true and gross understatement. During these last tumultuous weeks, we have seen the tragic and unnecessary deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened and killed so many across the globe. 

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery has hit my family close, as one of our daughters worked in the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia until recently and has friends in the Brunswick community. Waiting 74 days before an arrest was made in the Arbery case has been excruciatingly painful to watch. It’s crystal clear evidence of the great distance American society still has to travel before it treats all of its members equally and with respect, especially when justice is being sought.

In today’s racially-charged environment, we must tightly embrace our university’s principles of community and the University Libraries’ commitment to our inclusive climate of mutual care, respect, and responsibility. We will continue to affirm the intrinsic humanity of every person and their right to information, technology, and knowledge so that they can do the same. We will continue to offer aid to students, faculty, and all researchers who are trying to continue their work and education, no matter their race or background. And as we do so, we need to stand up and speak out against injustice in any form while we keep Ahmaud, Breonna, George, and the numerous fallen African-Americans firmly in our minds. 

We all wonder, “but what can I do?” I have seen in recent months how we have come together and demonstrated our library’s great love of fellowship and collaboration to make a difference for our Virginia Tech community and beyond. We are fortunate to be surrounded by a university community that has the motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) at its center and guiding principles steeped in caring and respect. However, each and every one of us must not just say these words but live and work by them. We must continue to lead by example and be role models for others to follow.

In the coming weeks and months, the university will host initiatives to enhance inclusivity at Virginia Tech. I urge you to participate and learn about how you can make a difference for the disenfranchised of our community, nation, and world. Learn what you can do to help us all overcome the barriers of racism, negative perceptions, and hate so that we can all celebrate in our differences.

These are dark times, yes. But we can make a difference. We all can.

All my best to you and your families, 

Tyler Walters
Dean, University Libraries and Professor
Virginia Tech