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News Student Senate Video

Interim Dean gives emotional speech to ‘rise above’ violence in community

“Whether we are black, brown or white, we need to come together and end what is going on in our society.”


It was less than 48 hours after two police officers were murdered in their squad cars. It was less than a week after a 14-year-old son of a family from South Sudan was shot in the head. Interim Dean of Students Dr. Jerry Parker was upset. Parker was filling in for Senate’s co-advisors Meghan Baeza and Joe Campos.

“The violence has to end,” Parker said at Thursday evening’s senate meeting. “It needs to. This is doing nobody any good. And whether we are black, brown or white, we need to come together and end what is going on in our society.” 

Parker’s impassioned speech to the senators was impromptu and drew snaps of appreciation and agreement from around the table.

Preceding this speech, Parker announced he was considering applying for the permanent role as Dean of Students.

You can see Parker’s appeal to senators and the student body and read the full transcript of the monologue below.

[toggle title=’Transcript of the entire speech here:’]

“We as a nation, we’re in a very difficult…I’ve been talking with colleagues and students the last few days and throughout the semester, the violence has to end. It needs to. This is doing nobody any good. And whether we are black, brown or white, we need to come together and end what is going on in our society. Yesterday was a tragedy, there are families involved.

“On Monday, there’s a tragedy for a family from South Sudan with five children, a 14-year-old boy who dies because he and his sister were going to get food, and he gets shot. We as a community have a responsibility to try to make this better for all of us. These are difficult times. And the soundbites we see coming from politicians or public officials or national media, whatever it may be, we need to rise above it and we need to work together.

“We need to be open to having dialogue and discussions with each other whether we agree or disagree, but it is imperative that these things happen. That they don’t happen at educational institutions like Drake University, I don’t know where they can happen.

“It is our responsibility to work side by side with our community to make life better for all of us. To do everything we can to make the community safer. And I hope and I know that all of us together will rise above this. But it takes the commitment of everybody in this room and the 5,000 people that call Drake their university, to help support.

“Not to say that we know what’s best, but to make sure we listen and hear what is needed in the community. Unless you live in the community, unless you know the community, you don’t know what’s best. You need to be able to have a relationship with folks, and to stand side by side and lead forward together. But the violence that we are seeing in our society right now, the hatred that we’re seeing in society right now, is doing nobody, is doing no one, any good.

“And I feel bad for each one of you right now, as a future generation of leaders and our country, you are seeing something that is devastating right now. That no matter who wins a presidential election next Tuesday night, that there is this animosity that there is this hatred towards whatever candidate wins, to try to stifle progression to move forward together. Doesn’t matter what party you align with, we gotta work together and unfortunately everything you’re seeing right now in society and being publicized, tells you not to. And that’s what’s disappointing. That’s what’s sad.

“I empower each and every one of you in this room and the 4,000 plus students that go to Drake University to rise above it. To make the hatred go away, to end it, that every life is valuable. Every life is valuable. We’ve become immune to deaths in our society, to war, people, we’ve gotta be human again. I can’t stress that enough. And I’m sorry I’m getting emotional about it, but I’ve gotta tell ya…as an educator, and that’s what I am, first and foremost, I’m an educator. We have to work together.

“And outside the four walls of this university, everything that you all are seeing, is counter to what we’re trying to do as an educational institution. To be solution-oriented. To work together and bridge our differences for solutions. And that’s what’s devastating, about all of this.

“You know, when I talked with my neighbors the other night, they were the next room over from this 14-year-old child who was shot, that has died, that is devastating. And when you learn the history and when you learn about the family, it’s even more devastating. Because they’re leaving a war-torn nation, and coming to the United States of America, in hopes of that there’s a brighter future. It’s devastating. We can be better than this. We need to be better than this. There’s no excuse for us not to be better than this.

“Each one of you has a responsibility, I have a responsibility, we all have a responsibility. To make this a better community for all of us. We start local, we work with our neighbors, we respect our neighbors, we respect our differences. But when we disagree, it’s not synonymous with hatred. I can’t stress that enough. When we disagree with each other, it does not mean that we hate each other. But that we’re open to hear another person’s perspective. Through the lens which they look through, through their experiences in life. That we be open to it. And that we work together to find solutions that benefits all of us.

“This is a tough day, this is a tough period of time for us. But it’s going to take the leadership of all of you, and of all your peers, and our staff, faculty and the greater community to rise above it. My only hope is that come Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, that your public officials that you all cast a vote for, will rise above the divisiveness that we’re seeing in our society right now. That’s my hope.” [/toggle]


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