‘I hear you, and I know this fear is real’: DEI leader points to resources on campus after Daunte Wright’s killing in Brooklyn Center

University of Iowa Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Executive Officer Liz Tovar sent a message to campus encouraging people to support one another, reach out to campus support resources, and engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion education and trainings.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Caitlin Crome, News Reporter

After Daunte Wright’s death and protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and elsewhere, Executive Officer for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liz Tovar and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Sara Sanders sent out messages of support to students, colleagues and friends at the University of Iowa.

On Wednesday, Tovar wrote a message to campus regarding the death of Daunte Wright, a black man who was shot and killed by Minnesota police officer Kim Potter on April 11. 

She wrote, “I hear you, and I know this fear is real. Seeing these images, again and again, can be traumatic.”

Tovar advised the university community that people cannot become closed off, asking students, faculty, and staff to keep talking to each other and supporting community members who are in need. 

On the University of Iowa campus, Tovar pointed to the UI’s Reimagining Campus Safety Committee formed this summer after law enforcement tear gassed protesters in Iowa City which is working “to identify strategies, tactics, and timelines for creating a campus community that supports all individuals’ safety, with particular attention to people who have traditionally experienced disproportionate harm from law enforcement systems,” she wrote. 

The committee held virtual town halls and accepted online feedback on three models for campus safety. According to the website, the committee expects to give outgoing President Bruce Harreld recommendations this semester.

In addition to Tovar’s message, Sanders sent out an email today on behalf of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences leadership and the college’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee “to amplify Tovar’s statement, and to affirm its message of solidarity and compassion to our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students, faculty, and staff.”

She wrote: “Our colleagues, friends, and classmates throughout CLAS are continuing to ask a simple question: ‘Why?’  Why does another person have to die or suffer abuse at the hands of the police because of the color of their skin? Why do people have to die at the hands of a hateful mass shooter because of their gender, their ethnicity, or race?”

Sanders wrote that she encourages people to take advantage of the workshops, trainings, and other DEI-related programs that are available on campus.

“I also hope you will reach out to each other—to your advisors, professors, RAs, classmates, coworkers, family, and friends—when you need to talk. As Dr. Tovar said, ‘Hawkeyes always look out for each other and stick together,’” she wrote in her campus-wide email.

In Tovar’s message, she wrote that resources are available to help those impacted by these events. She encouraged students and staff to express feelings, report concerns, or get involved to help others using resources such as Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Office of the Ombudsperson, Women’s Resource and Action Center, and Rape Victim Advocacy Program, as well as the Campus Inclusion Team, Center for Diversity and Enrichment, Office of the Dean of Students, and many more listed in her message

“We each must take responsibility for our personal journeys of learning and awareness when it comes to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and other forms of diversity. These programs provide safe opportunities for self-examination and community-building,” she wrote. 

Sanders said she believes that gaining more knowledge and understanding is the path towards a more fair society.

“I know it can feel painfully slow, and in our darkest moments, futile. But each day, I see you all rally to continue our collective journey toward racial and social justice, and I am exhilarated and inspired,” Sanders wrote.