June 18, 2020
Re: Fiat Lux
To: All students, faculty and staff
June 18, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
On Saturday I had the great pleasure and privilege of giving our chancellor-designate, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, and his wife, Dr. Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, a tour of campus, particularly of our newest Merced 2020 buildings. They followed up with a tour of downtown Merced led by Mayor Mike Murphy and his wonderful family.
I’m sad to be stepping away from Merced and back to the Office of the President, but so happy to be leaving UC Merced in the hands of such an accomplished, insightful and strategic academic leader. I know these are difficult times, but I hope there will be opportunities this fall for him to broadly engage with our faculty, students and staff and hear from all of you just how special a place UC Merced is and always has been.
These are difficult times for many reasons. The legitimate outrage across the country from the Black community and allies in the wake of horrific police violence has challenged us all to think about our understanding of privilege and commitment to community. Our Staff and Faculty of Color Association have been at the forefront of calling important issues to our attention over the past few weeks, and there are opportunities today for private reflection and public advocacy .
It’s important that we, institutionally and personally, support the fight for equity — and acknowledge that because of the early and still-ongoing struggles of the Black community to be seen and heard, so much progress has been made for so many others in our society. The fight for simple justice and equality begat the civil rights movement which begat immigration reforms, including DACA, the right to marry whomever we choose, the right to protection in housing and employment and so many other accomplishments we can too readily take for granted. I do urge you, if you have not yet done so, to read Professor Kevin Dawson’s powerful and moving essay on the history of Juneteenth and of systemic racism in America.
Our difficulties these days, of course, include not only the fight for fairness but the fight to retain — or regain — some sense of normalcy as we continue to battle COVID-19 and its fallout. UC Merced continues to plan in granular detail how we can return to in-person instruction and lab research, in some ways, for some students and faculty.
We do not know everything yet. We have announced our goal to offer as much as 30% of overall instruction in person, but we do not yet know which classes might be fully in-person, fully online or offered in a hybrid mode. We plan to offer residence halls to first-year students in accordance with a plan to maintain safe distancing, while holding some spaces for potential isolation of those who test positive for coronavirus; any remaining rooms will be offered to upper-class students after first-year students have made their decisions. We are planning for lab research to begin to ramp up around July 1.
But there are many variables and many unknowns. We are planning while trying to build in adaptability to circumstances that can change without notice, such as a potential spike in Merced County cases. We know it is frustrating. We are frustrated ourselves at times, but we are forging ahead and will release decisions as soon as we can responsibly do so.
But this week also brought an important victory for our UC community, and our fellow Bobcats. We learned today that the Supreme Court declined to side with the administration in overturning DACA, which would have been so harmful to many of our employees, our students and their families. The University of California took the lead role in fighting to maintain the rights of young people who have really known no other home than the United States, and in fighting the cruelty that would rip them from this home. We can be proud of, and take some comfort in, this moment of light in a dark time.
We do not always live up to our ideals, but at our best we are a community, and we are strongest together.
This is an important message from UC Merced. Please share with colleagues who may not have ready access to email. If you require a Spanish translation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .