Derek Chauvin verdict

Message - President BensonOffice of the President

Message from President Michael T. Benson 

Derek Chauvin verdict

April 21, 2021

From President Benson:

Dear Coastal Carolina University Colleagues, 

I want to share with you this message from our vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Atiya Stokes-Brown. It is important to consider her communication as we process and reflect on this watershed moment for our country – the verdict of guilty on all three counts, handed down in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, let us pledge to be present, opening our minds and hearts to one another, making ourselves available to listen, reflect, and learn from those who have suffered the most through these horrendous events. We can focus on the life and death of George Floyd, and become more keenly aware of the important role each of us plays in paving the way for change, and then join together to courageously take the steps needed for genuine change to occur.

Michael T. Benson, President

Coastal Carolina University 


Dear students, faculty and staff,

Multitudes watched and waited with anticipation on Tuesday afternoon as a Minneapolis jury handed down the verdict, finding Derrek Chauvin guilty of all three charges in the killing of George Floyd. In a few weeks, the former police officer will be sentenced on the charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Many have been overwhelmed by the trauma of these events and, perhaps, lost faith in humanity. This verdict can serve as an important measure of accountability, potentially making way for the kind of justice that restores faith and opens the door to healing and reconciliation.

George Floyd’s murder is sadly one of many acts of violence that has been exhausting to endure. The sheer number of lives lost in this country must force us to strengthen our steadfast commitment to the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion – key principles of our University.  These values draw us together as one community committed to change and addressing injustice here and across the country.  

We call on each CCU student, staff and faculty member to join our institutional efforts to:

  • Nurture and sustain an inclusive campus climate where individual identities, commonalities and differences are perceived as strengths, and where expressions of identity will not negatively impact opportunities for success;
  • Promote programs and structures that foster respect for diversity and engaged dialogue between all members of the community;
  • Recognize and affirm the experiences of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups while simultaneously raising awareness of how access, inclusion and diversity benefit all members of the University community;
  • And ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in areas including, but not limited to, recruitment, representation, retention, curricular and co-curricular programming, residential life, hiring, career advancement, and work life to support a campus culture that is inclusive and equitable for all members of the community. 

We encourage anyone who requires support in processing this event to contact any of these offices for assistance:

Dr. Atiya Kai Stokes-Brown
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Political Science
Gender pronouns: she, her, hers (What Is This?)
Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Coastal Carolina University
P.O. Box 261954
Conway, South Carolina 29528
Tel 843-349-2218 |