A conversation about race with University of Oregon students

June 8, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, I held a Zoom meeting with four University of Oregon students and had a frank discussion about race. This, to be sure, was prompted by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and the civic uprisings that followed as part of the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the nation and the world.

But it also struck me as an important conversation that has been long overdue, and I believe we all need to be having more discussions like this with our students to understand their experiences at UO. I am sure that many of you already do. I wanted to share my recent discussion with you because I learned a lot, and thought it might spark some discussion internally.

The students are:

  • Evrik Skinner, a first-year, African-American from South Carolina, who is majoring in Earth science.
  • Kat Sincuir Alvarez, a first-year, Latina and first-generation college student with Guatemalan roots who is from Miami. She is a double major in cultural anthropology and cinema studies.
  • Emily Chang, a second-year international student from Taiwan, who is majoring in accounting.
  • Alex de Verteuil, a recent UO alumna with a PhD in genetics, who is Caribbean-African American.

Fair warning: this is long, but I believe it to be informative and worth watching. Let me know what you think. I am committed to helping facilitate many more such conversations moving forward.


Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President