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The March Towards Hope

To: All faculty, staff and students 

Re: The March Towards Hope 

April 20, 2021 


Dear Campus Community, 

My heart has been heavy as we continue to witness the effects of racial violence. The murder of George Floyd and its subsequent trial reopens the wounds that have been continuously created by systemic racism.  

The jury’s verdict to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd does not resolve the loss of life, nor does it resolve the historical and institutionalized presence of systemic racism. We experience a momentary relief to see justice enacted, but this does not absolve us of the continued work that must be done. Institutions have historically failed to render justice on a systemic level. It is difficult to have hope when the history of our country and its institutions are rooted in racism and oppression. Despite that, I am overcome with emotions to see justice finally enacted in a way that we have only hoped for in the past. The possibility of this outcome has been paved by the work of activists who have brought global attention to these injustices. It is moments like these that remind us of what we continue to work towards – hope that justice is no longer a question in our minds. We echo UC President Michael Drake’s statement and his sentiment that this is a chance for us to reimagine our country’s future. These are complex spaces to occupy and we must all take the time to process.  

Even with Derek Chauvin’s conviction, we ask all of our campus community to allow for maximum flexibility with one another as we collectively process this decision and the history its rooted in. For supervisors and faculty, please allow your employees and students space to take the time to sort through the complex array of emotions associated with this trial and model this care and grace by giving yourself time as well. Our office will continue to update the resources we have previously provided on our website. We were able to host a radical healing session today, bringing members of our campus community together while the results of the trial were read. Holding these spaces of support where we can hold each other up, even in a virtual setting, are at the center of our work.  

We awaited the results of this trial anxiously, hoping that history would not repeat itself. We hope to reach a point where we no longer have to witness the senseless loss of life of our Black community at the hands of the police and to no longer assume that justice will not be served. As we work towards steadily chipping away at systemic racism, we will continue to build a community at UC Merced that strongly unites against oppression. As stated by the rest of campus leadership and myself in our earlier statement, “We have so much more to do to build a just country in which we are not hoping for punishment for rogue officers but preventing such killings in the first place. UC Merced must and will be part of building that future.”  

Please take a collective breath, take the time to process, and our fight against systemic racism and oppression will continue.  


Always with you, 

Dania Matos, J.D. 

Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer