Confronting Racial Injustice

The seal of Georgetown University with the School of Nursing & Health Studies name beneath it.

April 20, 2021

Dear NHS Community:

President DeGioia recently wrote, “As we look back over this past year, there have been painful reminders of persistent racism and discrimination in our country.” 

Indeed, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and Daunte Wright, and so many others, have caused profound and enduring pain. The corrosive evils of discrimination and racism have felt ever-present, eroding a sense of safety, a sense of belonging, a sense of the value of the common good. This hatred, injustice, and violence – perpetuated by individuals, institutions, and structures – run directly counter to who we are at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, where we are guided by our Mission, Vision, and Values

We recognize that the trial of Derek Chauvin has caused excruciating memories of the brutal murder of George Floyd last spring. We see the deep hurt in our community prompted by this trial and resulting from so many lives harmed and lost due to the enduring poisonous presence of racism in the United States and around the world. (This evening, GUMC EVP Dr. Edward Healton shared a video message reflecting on the verdict. In his message, he reaffirmed his priority of leading culture change on our campus and establishing an environment that is more equitable and inclusive of all its members.)

While we are impacted by events in our nation, we write to our school community today to redouble our commitment to efforts focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and to racial justice. Across the School of Nursing & Health Studies, individual students, faculty, and staff have been doing very important related work in practice, research, scholarship, service, and teaching. We want to especially acknowledge with deep empathy and gratitude our colleagues and students who have helped guide critical change at our school while enduring, in a personal way, the pain of violence we have seen – again and again – against the Asian and Asian American community, the Black community, the Latinx community, and the Native American community.

The NHS Leadership Team has drafted a new statement expressing the school’s commitment, one which will also help inform our planning for the new School of Nursing and School of Health: 

“Supporting our collective foundational mission to advance health equity, the School of Nursing & Health Studies profoundly rejects racism, faith-based persecution, sexism and gender discrimination, ageism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, and transphobia. These and all other forms of bias, discrimination, prejudice, and hate directed at persons – expressed overtly or covertly at the interpersonal, institutional, and/or structural levels – threaten our collective humanity through harming both the ability of individuals and communities to truly flourish, and the promotion of equity, justice, and the common good. The School of Nursing & Health Studies, consistent with Georgetown’s Catholic, Jesuit identity, supports an academic environment that is diverse, inclusive and respectful, and we commit to building upon and promoting this work through humility and the transparent practices, policies, resourcing, and values of our academic community.”

We express sincere solidarity with our students, faculty, and staff of color who have endured a world-changing pandemic while suffering racism’s continuing assault. Grounded in our values, we are here for each other, and, perhaps now more than ever, we look to those values to illuminate the way. The health and well-being of our community is a paramount concern. 

Please remember to take advantage of resources available to you. In addition to reaching out within NHS, students, faculty, and staff can find a full range of mental well-being resources at Georgetown on our Every Hoya Cares website. At 6 PM ET tomorrow (April 21), Campus Ministry will offer a virtual prayer service live on for the Georgetown community to come together in reflection.  

With our sincere care and concern,  

Dr. Carole Roan Gresenz, Interim Dean, School of Nursing & Health Studies

Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, Director, Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice Program 

Dr. Mary Haras, Chair, Department of Advanced Nursing Practice

Dr. Pablo Irusta, Chair, Department of Human Science, and Associate Dean for Health Studies

Dr. Christopher J. King, Chair, Department of Health Systems Administration

Dr. Bernhard Liese, Chair, Department of International Health

Dr. Edilma L. Yearwood, Chair, Department of Professional Nursing Practice