A Message of Sadness, Reflection, and Action


Dear Members of the SUNY Canton Community,

I have watched with you in sadness and anger the painful events of recent days. A Black man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer as Mr. Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe.” People of color, their friends, and their allies have risen up to protest his tragic and unacceptable death. His death is the latest example of a legacy of racial injustice that is all too present in our own communities, across the country, and indeed, around the world.

As members of the SUNY Canton community, we grieve with our nation and Mr. Floyd’s family at this injustice. We recognize that we are not immune to the issues of systemic racism and discrimination in the North Country or at SUNY Canton and that we must do better to address these issues. I call on each of us to reflect on what we believe, to listen and learn, and ask how we can contribute to positive change.

As a College, we recommit ourselves to reaching out and actively listening to all members of our community who have been hurt and angered by these events, particularly our students, faculty, and staff of color. I want you to know that we want our community, both on campus and off, to be a place where you are heard and seen, where your inherent dignity and value are always respected, and where you know you are loved and supported as members of our SUNY Canton family.

We recommit ourselves to not only speak, but to embody, our campus motto: Everyone Is Welcome Here. We will do this, first, by hosting a series of virtual events over the summer to reflect on and discuss how we can work together to heal divisions, fight injustice, and stand up for all members of our community. We encourage you to join us for this series.

Beyond this series, we will be seeking to learn from and engage with our campus community on ways we can impact racial inequality both locally and nationally. We invite you not only to join us in this work but to reach out to us and share your thoughts and ideas for how we can do this together. We grow when we learn from each other, are held accountable, and strengthened by diversity.

The great poet Langston Hughes in his poem “Democracy” wrote:

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

The killing of George Floyd shows that justice has still not been established. The time to do better is now. To learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression. And to respect, stand up for, and support those who say:

I live here too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

I ask you to join me in coming together to engage in these conversations and to continue to make SUNY Canton a place where everyone feels truly welcome here.

Zvi Szafran

President, SUNY Canton

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.