Letter to Our Campus Community: The Death of Tyre Nichols

[Editor’s Note: This message was edited on Jan, 30 to include an attribution to a quote that was included in the original message.]


Dear Members of the University Community: 

Like you, I am angry and saddened at the loss of Tyre Nichols to police brutality. This is yet another tragic chapter in the long history of systemic and often deadly police violence meted out to members of Black communities. The familiarity of this tragedy is triggering, exhausting, and enraging. 

Though Memphis, Tennessee, is geographically far from the East Bay, the systemic nature of these attacks and the heartbreaking loss of life impacts our campus. Members of our campus may have a range of reactions from numbness, sadness, and rage to despondency. I ask that you check in and exercise grace with each other.

I am grateful to our staff and faculty who have prepared a support session for students, staff, and faculty. The session is a collaboration of DISC (Diversity and Inclusion Student Center), BSCC (Black Student Success Center), Counseling Services, and the Office of Diversity.


Black Community Empowerment and Community Healing Circle 

  • In-Person
  • Date: Monday, January 30 at 3:00pm
    Location: DISC, New UU 1005, RSVP 

Additionally, students may access services at CSU East Bay Counseling Services. Employees may access confidential counseling services through the CSU East Bay Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Please contact these campus-based counseling services if you feel unsafe or need psychological and emotional support. The African American Faculty and Staff Association can be reached by emailing steven.cleveland@csueastbay.edu.

The scourge of systemic racism is a scar on our nation. Black Americans deserve better–all Americans deserve better. At East Bay, we will use this moment as a call to continued action.

We must continue to turn the lens inward and address our institution’s own role in perpetuating inequitable structures and systems that bring material and psychological harm. A university is an extension of society—a place dedicated to advancing knowledge for everyone’s gain. 

As the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor Patrick Gallagher wrote, “Racism degrades our pursuit of true equality, liberty, and justice, and it undermines our ability to create opportunity through teaching, research, and service. Our university must become a better, more equitable place, and we can do more.”

We must plot a path forward in this moment of raw grief and anger. As I outlined in our newly created strategic plan, Future Directions, we will find ways to build bridges, listen and empathize—even when it is uncomfortable to enact change. Working together, we have enormous power.

With care,

Cathy Sandeen



January 27, 2023