App State provides support to university community in wake of Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery trial verdicts

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Emily Broyles, Editor-in-Chief

The university is offering support to students, faculty and staff in light of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict and the verdict in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. 

Interim Chief Diversity Officer Jamie Parson sent an email to students Wednesday acknowledging that as holiday breaks and preparation for finals are underway, “our nation has again found itself grappling with the implications of divisive trials.”

“The complexities of our legal system — which often disproportionately affect Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous and other underrepresented populations — complicate the ability to have civil, productive discourse about how to move forward, together, as one nation united,” Parson wrote. 

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty on all charges Nov. 19 after killing two people and shooting another at a protest in Kenosha, Washington, last summer following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man left paralyzed by a white police officer. Three white men were found guilty of murder Nov. 24 in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was jogging in their neighborhood when he was chased after and shot February 2020.  

Students, faculty and staff can talk about impacts of the most recent trials and others through hybrid “Brave Spaces” forums. The forum for students will take place Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in I.G. Greer Room 224. The faculty and staff forum will be Dec. 1 at noon in App Hall Room 085. A panel discussion on the recent verdicts is also open to members of the App State community, which will take place Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in Rough Ridge Ballroom in Plemmons Student Union. 

Parson wrote that higher education sees a challenge in balancing conversations about race between free inquiry and uplifting diverse views. Parson and Chancellor Sheri Everts are working together in navigating “challenging and divisive situations that also impact our campus community,” Everts wrote in her campus update Wednesday. 

“She and I have discussed how in times like these, it is more important than ever to publicly reaffirm our shared values, create spaces for challenging, supportive discussions, and provide resources to those in our community who need them,” Parson wrote. 

The university offered resources and support to students awaiting the verdict of the trial of Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder in an email April 19. The email was signed by Everts and all members of her cabinet. 

Parson encouraged members of the App State community to practice self-care and to seek the following offices for additional support: App Advocates; Counseling and Psychological Services; Counseling for Faculty and Staff; Employee Assistance Program; Inclusive Excellence Team and Liaisons; Intercultural Student Affairs; Office of Diversity; University Ombuds Office

“I appreciate the App State Community’s efforts to come together during times of challenge to ensure our campus is an inclusive, safe and supportive environment for all Mountaineers,” Parson wrote.