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Statement By GNAC CEO Board Chair Dr. James Gaudino

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear GNAC Community,

We are all experiencing a mixture of emotions as we grapple with the crises befalling our society. The pandemic, economic crisis and now the civil disturbance in our cities and towns are rocking our sense of what is normal and what to expect tomorrow.

The merciless killing of George Floyd has again exposed the magnitude of the injustice and inequality present in the United States. The protests remind us that inequality exists not only in its system of justice, but also in economic opportunities, finance and banking, health care and, yes, in education.

It is no surprise that righteous anger and frustration is spilling into the streets, as it did in 1965 in Watts, decades before our student-athletes were born. The emotions we feel following the killing of Mr. Floyd are magnified by the knowledge that, at the basic levels of society, the U.S. has not progressed 55 years later.

We are proud of the achievements of the GNAC. We have grown in the diversity of our student-athletes and our athletic staff. The academic success of student-athletes is unrivaled in North America. But, have we done enough?

Our answer is emphatical — no.

We must demand renewed intentionality to challenge our past, assess the present, and build a more inclusive conference. We pledge to you that the GNAC will continue to strive to ensure competitive and academic environments that are physically, intellectually and emotionally safe for all. We want those experiences for all, regardless of any characteristic others might use to define and marginalize you.

Our goal cannot be to get through this challenging time and return to normal. Normal is what got us here, and it will do so again if we do not demand change. The GNAC leadership teams will work with all of our administrators, coaches and student-athletes. We will seek your candid counsel and accept your evaluation of our efforts.

In closing, we join all in conveying our profound respect and condolences to the grieving family of George Floyd and the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

And to those of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland, and Tamir Rice and … too, too many others.

Sincerely,

Dr. James L. Gaudino
President, Central Washington University
Chair, GNAC CEO Board

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