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The Tragic Events in Minneapolis

May 31, 2020

To the YSPH Community -- our students, staff, faculty, and alumni:

The events of this week highlight the continued structural racism in our society that literally costs lives. Mr. George Floyd, another unarmed, cooperative black man, was killed in a police murder in Minneapolis, followed by a violent, provocative Twitter® response from our President. Police violence must be added to the list of urgent public health priorities in the U.S., given societal failures to solve this through legal and political action. A high-profile racist confrontation in Central Park preceded this tragic murder. Disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic death statistics point to the social and racial determinants of disease, highlighting inequities in housing, work safety, underlying medical conditions, and access to care. In a smokescreen to mask U.S. failings, the Administration is orchestrating the apparent full withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization, the multinational agency focused on the health and welfare of people of color in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, and Oceania.

Students, staff, faculty, and alumni alike recognize that public health in general and YSPH in particular have not done enough to end white supremacy and structural racism. Events from the past few months reinforce our commitment for YSPH to be a leader in working to end this public health threat. We should be ever vigilant about how our technical skills must be matched by skills in communication and community partnership to address the underlying elements of social injustice and racism. The urgency to put public health practice, research, and education at the forefront of this national agenda has never been greater.

As a start, YSPH will hold a virtual town hall next month with experts in the school, alongside students, alumni, and community participants, to determine next concrete steps. Students who may be struggling with trauma or stress related to these events should reach out to Yale Health's Mental Health and Counseling Office at 203-432-0290. Join the YSPH community in mourning, but also in mobilizing.

Sten H. Vermund, Dean
Mayur Desai, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Frank Grosso, Associate Dean for Students
Melinda Irwin, Associate Dean for Research
Melinda Pettigrew, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs