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FSU Endorsement of the Justice for Sayed Arif Faisal Solidarity Statement and Call-to-Action by Educators


Dear Member,

The University of Massachusetts Boston traces its roots to progressive educators who advanced an emancipatory vision of higher education. Central to that vision is the belief that faculty and staff at public universities have a moral obligation—both to the state and to their students—to ensure that their research, teaching, service, and civic engagement respond to the challenges of democratic life. 

A central challenge of democratic life in the 21st century is the crisis of systemic racism. Of course, one cornerstone of American capitalism from its earliest days has been this notion of race that makes invidious distinctions between human beings that facilitate the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few. But since May 2020, when a police officer murdered George Floyd, it has become starkly clear to many Americans that systemic racism will not end of its own volition but will only fall away when people who are committed to justice dismantle it. The protests that erupted that summer drew support from many members of the UMB community. 

That reality—that the most vulnerable members of society, including the young and future generations, will continue to suffer under systemic racism until people who purport to love democracy demonstrate that love in action—became starkly apparent this January in the streets of Cambridge when one of our students, Sayed Arif Faisal, was killed by Cambridge police. For the “crime” of being in apparent mental distress, he was met with overwhelming lethal force. 

We are under no illusions about what this killing represents. We know that in this country there is a long history of ugly racism toward working-class people of Asian descent. We know that the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower feared has metastasized to incorporate a prison-industrial complex big enough to accommodate the largest incarcerated population on the planet. We know that today, many of this nation’s imperial wars are fought in predominantly Muslim countries. And we know that the hallmarks of neoliberal capitalism—competition, atomization, and precarity—are contributing to a pandemic of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns among young people. 

Therefore, the FSU Executive Committee endorses the “Solidarity Statement and Call-to-Action by Educators” letter promulgated by educators across Massachusetts, several of whom are members of our own UMB faculty. This letter in support of the Justice for Faisal movement urges us to commit to critical analysis of our scholarly institutions and practices with the goal of using them to end the violence perpetrated by racial capitalism and neoliberal mental health discourses. 

The FSU Executive Committee shares this vision for the FSU and is committed to engaging in inquiries and actions aimed at helping to realize it. 

Please consider signing the attached statement to indicate your own individual support for this effort :

From the Faculty Staff Union Executive Committee