Response to Ahmaud Arbery Trial Verdict

As we heard the guilty verdict for the three men tried for the death of Ahmaud Arbery, it’s difficult to know what to think. Is this justice? Is this accountability? Certainly nothing will bring back the innocent runner violently attacked.  

Reflecting on the recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, and all the lives lost in recent months, we must ask what layered traumas we are challenged to accept and how we can make change. Higher education has long been criticized as a liberal bastion coddling the emotions of those impacted by mainstream words and actions. We, instead, see our campus communities as strongholds of hope, full of the students who hold in themselves the essence of possibility for a better tomorrow. We support activism and critique, knowing it is what will transform systems and create equity. 

We do need to transform systems—not just our interpersonal actions—but today we can choose to do both.  

The 2022 Annual Conference in Chicago will include a day focused on social justice, intentionally curated to help attendees develop their own capacity to do the work of advancing campus community. In the morning, a block of educational sessions will explore dimensions of social justice. This will be followed by two-hour workshops in which individuals dive deep into guided self-work in this competency. Next we will hear from Black Lives Matter co-founder, artist, and abolitionist Patrisse Cullors. Then the afternoon will include action-planning sessions for advancing social justice in higher education. These programs will be in addition to reflections on Arbery and the other victims and survivors of injustice, educational sessions about activism, as well as ample time to reenergize our support systems and reduce fatigue.


  • Elizabeth Beltramini

    Elizabeth Beltramini served as ACUI's director of content curation and chief diversity officer. She worked at ACUI for more than 20 years before leaving in 2022 to pursue new challenges. Upon her departure, Beltramini received ACUI's Honorary Membership and Presidential Award for Distinguished Services.

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