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A message of care and concern regarding Memphis

Leaders of the Division of Student Affairs and Office for Religious and Spiritual Life describe campus resources available to all students as we process this difficult news story.

Dear students,

We are writing with a message of sadness, care, and hope.

The footage released by the city of Memphis documenting the events leading to the death of Tyre Nichols ended our week with disturbing news of violence. If you have seen the video, every second is beyond troubling. Any fatal interaction with law enforcement is incredibly disturbing, and it is particularly gut wrenching to see this happen to yet another member of the Black community – a community that experiences these grievous acts at a higher rate than any other in our society.

While officers have been terminated from the Memphis Police Department and charged with Tyre’s killing, the circumstances surrounding his death still leave many questions. And for many of us, big emotions to grapple with. Tyre was much more than a Black man who died after a traffic stop. He was a son, brother, and father who was raised here in California and who recently moved to Memphis where his mother now lives. We grieve with all who knew and loved him.

As you process this difficult news story, we want to remind you of our student mental health and well-being resources. Students can find community and solace at the University Public Worship service 11 a.m. Sunday at Memorial Church, and can schedule time to speak with a university chaplain. Additionally, the Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership are valued and well-equipped sources of support for learning, exploration, and belonging.

Given the specific details of this news, we acknowledge our Black community may be affected in direct or nuanced ways. The Black Community Services Center provides resources for care, community, and support, including partnering with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to provide regular drop-in counseling hours as well as Let’s Talk in Community virtual consultative appointments with Black CAPS clinicians. CAPS also offers several groups and workshops to support undergraduate and graduate students of color.

We recognize this news is occurring just a few days before our nation, including our student community, marks Black Liberation Month. It will be a delicate balance to hold sadness about Memphis while planning and gathering for celebratory events affirming the tremendous contributions and aspirations of our Black community. Let us navigate these complexities together, with respect and care for ourselves and everyone around us.


Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students

Samuel Santos Jr.
Associate Vice Provost of Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning

Tiffany Steinwert
Dean, Office for Religious and Spiritual Life