A Message from Dean Koch

    Date Posted: 
    Thursday, June 11, 2020

    As we struggle to emerge from our COVID-19 crisis, we face another deep national crisis.  Reeling in the wake of the horrific atrocities committed against black members of our community over the past several weeks, we find ourselves immersed in deep, personal soul-searching and reflection about how we have arrived at such a tragic moment, and it is a time to speak out.

    I was very recently heartened by the emergence of a grass-roots group – primarily of students, but also including some of our faculty and staff – that has spoken out both in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but also against their perception of inaction by OSC both historically and today. The power of individual passion and commitment is the power of change – and I am encouraged that this conversation, and the passion behind it, are what will become important with their potential for stronger engagement and fresh ideas.

    Throughout my lifetime I have lived through six decades of efforts to correct the deep-rooted injustices that the Black Lives Matters movement seeks to rectify.  As a community, I personally believe we must own these failures and strongly support this movement as championing basic human decency.  And our challenge is greater than ever in today’s media and political climate that thrives on driving division for economic or political gain.

    I also believe that, as a nation, we have too easily relied on well-intentioned but failed institutional solutions as a proxy for our consciences.  Our institutions can provide pieces of fabric and coordination for programs, and I am confident that our faculty, staff, and students in OSC all deeply embrace change.  There will surely be more we can do to make our community more inviting and fertile for a future, more diverse workforce, and these can be impactful elements of our conversation.

    But I also believe that the deepest change will come from a groundswell of individual commitments driven by our visceral reactions to violations of the values we hold dear.  This is today’s moment, and today’s reaction.  We must commit to live our values every day, in every relationship, and in every encounter.   We must ask ourselves what we can individually sacrifice or contribute to affect change. We must take our energy to the ballot box, and we must have the courage to openly speak out and condemn the pestilence of racism wherever and whenever we witness it.

    Today’s contention is the signature of a powerful awareness that something is very, very wrong.  I look forward to making this awareness enduring, and hold the belief that our conversation – nationally and here at OSC – can result in changes that will guide us towards a brighter future.