Below is a letter sent to the Mount Holyoke College Athletics community on Friday, June 5.
As a Mount Holyoke College student-athlete living in Ham Hall, I watched video footage shared on the nightly news of excessive force used by police against a Black man in Los Angeles, Calif. named Rodney King. On April 29, 1992, the four officers charged in the case were found not guilty. The unrest and protests began hours later.
As a senior student-athlete, these events profoundly impacted me.
There was student activism across the Five Colleges, and a "teach-in" was held with faculty to discuss racism and white privilege. However, it was in the conversations with my team, coaches, and department members - honest, difficult, imperfect conversations - where commitments to one another and our communities were made.
I promised to be a part of the change.
Twenty-eight years later, the events of the past week feel too, too familiar. They don't just remind me of the spring of 1992. They remind me of every passing year and the continued systemic racism and violence against Black people. We must renew our commitment to action.
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu
The energy, passion, and love of Lyons Nation has poured in. I respect the emails and thoughtful letters that our student-athletes and coaches have sent me. I hear the collective outrage at the series of events leading to today. I am energized by suggestions sent to us by the Mount Holyoke College athletics community. I am inspired by the team conversations and self-reflections we are having. They must continue
"Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls." - Maya Angelou
As the Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics, I am committed to the continuing and coordinated College actions to address the social injustices facing us. As a part of the Division of Student Life, our department is committed to building and supporting a vibrant and inclusive community at Mount Holyoke College. I met with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) executive board and Diversity and Inclusion representatives to discuss our next steps for dialogue and action, including continued work on the items within our strategic plan.
Our department strategic plan was built through the participation of many campus voices. It lays out a bold agenda that includes action around education for diversity and inclusion, climate assessment, improvements to recruiting and more. This plan is publicly available on our website. We will continue its activation through the governance and working groups of our department, including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Student-Athlete Leadership Team, the First Generation and Ethnic Minority Student-Athlete Group, Coaches Council, and the Administrative Leadership Team. I welcome the full participation of Lyons Nation to join in this work and will communicate with you the many ways to engage.
In deference to the focus of current events, we will postpone the release or our promised monthly newsletter to later in June.
Lori Hendricks '92
Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics