Dear Students, Faculty & Staff —
This week marks the start of Black History Month. It is scarred by the recent, tragic death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. There are no words to fully express our grief. Today, I write to you on behalf of Austin Community College District to share my condolences to Tyre’s family, the greater Memphis community, and all who are affected by this shocking attack.
Events like this continue to erode our sense of safety. The college stands with our Black community and remains committed to the work it takes to foster an inclusive and equitable campus community. We want all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to feel welcomed and at home when they are here.
As we continue to learn more about the events that unfolded and we examine their broader social implications, please know that your college is here for you. We offer support and learning opportunities:
- Student Counseling: Students, if you need guidance in any way, please visit ACC’s counseling and wellness resources.
- Employee Counseling: Free counseling and guidance are available through the college’s Employee Assistance Program.
- Cultural Centers: ACC’s African-American and Asian American Pacific Islander Cultural Centers and Latino/Latin American Studies Center (El Centro) offer spaces to learn more about cultures, histories, and contributions of our African-American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Latino communities.
As you know, Austin Community College District also is home to one of the first Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers in the nation. Our TRHT works closely with the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) to build bridges among our communities and confront painful realities.
We encourage healing through courageous conversation. I have asked our TRHT and DEI teams to explore opportunities in the days and weeks ahead where we can come together to share and listen. My hope is that — together — we can build a greater understanding and identify ways to show our support for those harmed by senseless violence. Please follow our TRHT webpage for information and opportunities.
Today, we are confronted with grief and frustration by another life lost. These are difficult days. I ask each of us to stand united in kindness and grace. I continue to hope and believe in a brighter and more just future for everyone. ACC will do what it can to help make that happen.
Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Austin Community College District