Chancellor Gary May comments on police killing of Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, in midst of Derek Chauvin murder trial

Chancellor Gary May comments on police killing of Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, in midst of Derek Chauvin murder trial

Photo Credits: North Hall at UC Davis where Student Counseling Service is located. (Quinn Spooner / Aggie)

Student Health and Counseling Services refers to racial trauma resources and partnerships with campus retention centers to gauge students’ needs

In the wake of the police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, in a Minneapolis suburb earlier this week, UC Davis officials and spokespeople for Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) spoke about racial trauma and mental health resources available at UC Davis. 

The police officer who fatally shot Wright has since been charged with manslaughter, having allegedly mistaken her service weapon for a taser gun she planned to use on Wright during a traffic stop. 

Wright’s death has sparked protests demanding racial justice and police accountability in Minneapolis, MN, which is also the site of the high-profile murder trial for former police officer Derek Chauvin who instigated worldwide protests last year. 

“As a Black man in America, I often feel like Schrödinger’s cat: I exist in an uncertain state that can be simultaneously considered both alive and dead, subject only to a potential random interaction with an incompetent/fallible/malicious law enforcement officer that may or may not occur,” Chancellor Gary May wrote in an April 13 letter to the UC Davis community. “It’s exhausting.” 

The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) also released a statement condemning this week’s events in Minneapolis and highlighting its re-examination of police reform on college campuses in recent months. 

“Even as Americans follow the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, this latest horror vividly conjures the trauma and heartbreak of the killing of George Floyd just a few miles away,” UC President Michael Drake wrote in the UCOP statement. “And so many, too many, others.”

May wrote an email to The California Aggie about resources available to students struggling with these events. These resources include accessing information about racial trauma and anti-racism on the university website or making an appointment with SHCS

Students with UC SHIP insurance can also make an appointment through Live Health Online, which offers no-cost video counseling appointments. 

“In times like this, it’s easy to feel scared, hurt, frustrated, angry or exhausted,” May said. “Many of us felt those emotions last month with hate crimes on the rise against the Asian Pacific Islander community. We felt them last summer when George Floyd was killed and many times before that.”

Dr. Michelle Burt, the director of multicultural resources and a counselor at SHCS, said in an email that students’ reactions are valid.

“It is important to remember that there is no one right way to react,” Burt said. “Some students may want self-help resources. Others may want to be in community with friends and family and others with shared identities or allies, and still others may seek more formal types of mental health support.”

Other resources listed on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website include student-focused cultural centers on campus, local organizations, reports on police accountability, academic articles about racism, social justice links from different organizations and news articles. 

According to Burt, the Community Advising Network (CAN) at SHCS consists of counselors who connect with campus coordinators about the current needs of students.

 Campus centers are seeking to gauge what kinds of support students may need amid the current wave of protests against police brutality. 

“With the Chauvin trial and recent shooting of Daunte Wright, CAN counselors are collaborating with student retention initiatives and student resource center staff to determine any additional ways to support students,” Burt said. “As these spaces and resources are confirmed, information will be sent out through our partner units.”Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — @campus@theaggie.org