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Sandy Barbour Issues Statement Following George Floyd’s Death

Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour issued a statement Sunday afternoon regarding the deaths of unarmed black citizens, including George Floyd, over the past few weeks.

“As the events of these last few weeks have unfolded, I have sat in awe of the beautiful words of support and the sentiments of celebrities, leaders, and everyday people, surrounding the deaths of Ahmaud, Breonna, and George,” Barbour wrote. “I’m very proud and awestruck by the words of so many college and university leaders, including my own leader at Penn State, Eric Barron.”

Barbour continued, adding we must create an accepting environment in our communities to stop these “senseless acts.”

“I’ve been motivated and moved by the number of our educators, many of whom are head coaches who lead and inspire our young men and women daily, including James Franklin’s thoughtful and heartfelt words,” Barbour continued. “These leaders know our collective future, in large part, depends on the courage and inspiration they can instill in the young people they lead and who their families have entrusted us to educate, inspire, and keep safe.”

Barbour described the deaths as an “unspeakable tragedy” but mentioned every Penn Stater deserves to feel safe.

“Every student, every employee, every human soul in the care of a leader must feel safe,” Barbour explained. “It is the number one priority of leadership. We know we must be better and we must do better.”

“And although I fervently defend the rights of each and every one of us to peacefully protest the atrocities we are witnessing in our society, I join with my former Berkeley colleague, Harry Edwards, in imploring others to stop the senseless violence being perpetrated in the name of the fallen,” Barbour wrote. “Hate is not the path to love; only love is. Only a true desire to listen, understand and respect will land us at the doorstep of the inclusive communities most of us so richly desire and deserve.”

Barbour specifically cited education as a “beautiful thing.” She described Penn State’s campuses as “a microcosm of the society around them.” Barbour believes that at their very best, campuses are safe spaces for young adults to discover their passions and to grow and learn.

“We need to be teaching them, and most importantly showing them for the good of their entire society, it is important to care about everyone around them, regardless of their differences,” Barbour wrote. “The color of their skin, their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender should not matter. We should care, and we should care deeply! Their future, and ours, depends on it.”

Despite “hurting” and “aching,” Barbour feels compassion for those who live in fear and vowed to stand up to racial injustices wherever they are.

“I will speak and I will act,” Barbour continued. “To my family, friends, and most importantly, those in my care who I have the privilege to lead, you have my commitment to be better and to do better. Within Penn State Athletics, we will lead with love, passion and open hearts … that is my promise to you!”

She is one of the latest leaders in the Penn State community to honor the life of George Floyd and others who were victims of violence. Penn State President Eric Barron and football head coach James Franklin both released statements on Saturday. Additionally, Penn State baseball head coach Rob Cooper announced that the team would retire No. 5 for the 2021 season in honor of Floyd.

The State College community came together Sunday afternoon to protest police brutality and racial injustice following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, NY and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his rants on all of his teams follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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