News

Response to the Verdict of the Derek Chauvin Trial

Dear GSAS community,

Today is a somber day for our nation.

Less than one year ago, on May 25, 2020, as the world was still reeling from the rapid spread of the Novel Coronavirus and the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd lay dying for nine minutes and 29 seconds, with then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck. This afternoon we learned that the State of Minnesota found Mr. Chauvin guilty on the charges of second-degree unintentional felony murder, third-degree “depraved mind” murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Mr. Floyd’s death.

The circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death spurred uprisings across the world, with many people from all backgrounds risking potential exposure to the virus, arrest, or being subjected to violence themselves—so vital were the collective calls to protect and save Black lives, to reckon with the White Supremacist ideals upon which our nation was founded and that continue to plague us even now, and to defund or abolish the police. Indeed, the New York Times reports that, “Since testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial began on March 29, more than three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement.” More than half of those dead, the article notes, are Black and Latino people.

Regardless of today’s verdict, a life was lost and so justice can never be fully served.

There is work yet to be done. Let us reaffirm our collective commitment as a community to recognize, name, and dismantle racism in all its forms, beginning at home with Columbia and within GSAS. The list that follows suggests options for how you might get involved.  

If You Seek Support

  • Access virtual health and counseling services on both the Morningside and CUIMC campuses.
  • Connect to spiritual resources and support through the office of Religious Life.
  • Contact the GSAS gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu (Office of Student Affairs) or the gsas-diversity [at] columbia.edu (Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion) to speak with someone about your experiences or concerns, and learn about additional resources.

Sincerely and with a renewed sense of community,

Carlos J. Alonso, Dean
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Celina Chatman Nelson
Associate Dean for Academic Diversity & Inclusion
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences