Our Stand on Racism

The following message was sent from the Cabinet at Saint Mary’s College to the Saint Mary’s College community. 

June 1, 2020

Dear members of the Saint Mary’s College community,

This past weekend, hundreds of protests were organized across the United States and around the world demanding attention to racial injustice. Communities are calling for action, insisting that we — individually and collectively — must take a forceful stand against racism, speak out for racial justice, and embrace the plain truth that Black lives matter. The murder of George Floyd and the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, have incited outrage, and we believe this is righteous anger. In the broader community of South Bend, the 2019 death of Eric Logan and its divisive after-effects show that right here in our city there is much work to be done.

Our country’s current unrest takes place in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and all evidence points to the ways that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by this global health crisis. Our health systems, our criminal justice systems, our political systems, and even our educational systems cry out for reform, and that reform begins with the eradication of systemic racism.

In 2018, Saint Mary’s College created a statement in which we declared our commitment to fight for justice for all marginalized, victimized populations, and we pledged actively to disrupt the dehumanizing effects caused by systemic and individual racism. We write to you today to reiterate that commitment and offer the full statement:

As a Catholic institution of higher learning, Saint Mary’s College has a mission-driven responsibility to be diverse, inclusive, and equitable. We believe in the inherent value of diversity in its multiple dimensions, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, religion, nationality, geographic origin, beliefs, ideas, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, gender expression, ability, veteran status, and age. To honor that value, the College is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that respects the human dignity and civil rights of all persons, particularly those from groups that have historically experienced discrimination and persecution. By actively resisting bigotry and marginalization, we endeavor to work against the effects of past injustices and to dismantle current forms of injustice. In particular, we recognize the insidiousness of systemic and individual racism, both intentional and unintentional, and we strive to actively disrupt its dehumanizing effects. We expect every member of the Saint Mary’s College community to uphold these commitments in our programs, practices, pedagogy, and policies.

If we are to fulfill our College’s values — including those of community and justice — we challenge ourselves and you to commit to: 

  • Engage in continuous learning to understand the challenges of communities impacted by racial injustice
  • Develop an awareness of our own biases and work towards overcoming them
  • Call out racism and injustice wherever we see it
  • Honor the experiences of others by listening and validating their narrative
  • Foster friendships with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Support organizations that are committed to addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, and justice
  • Support policies and laws at the federal, state, and local levels that address disparities in educational opportunities, health care, housing, and law enforcement. 

The Saint Mary’s College Office of Inclusion and Equity serves as an essential resource in furthering our emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. Please visit the Office’s web page frequently to avail yourself of the many resources, and watch for Saint Mary’s College programming related to these issues in the coming weeks.

As we draw on our faith, we pray for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, the many Black and Brown victims of police brutality and violence and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner. We pray for comfort for grieving families, friends, and members of the Saint Mary’s community. But we know that prayer alone is not enough. We are called to open our hearts, join our voices, reaffirm our commitment to overcome prejudice, and work for the dismantlement of systems that oppress our sisters and brothers. 

In Solidarity,

Katie Conboy, PhD, President
Mona Bowe, Vice President Enrollment Management
Michelle Egan, Special Assistant to the President
Judith R. Fean, Vice President of Mission
Redgina Hill, PhD, Executive Director of Inclusion and Equity
Gloria Jenkins, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs

Martha McCampbell, General Counsel
Todd Norris, Chief Information Officer
Shari Rodriguez, Vice President of College Relations
Julie Sisco, Director of Institutional Research
Dana Strait, PhD, Vice President for Strategy and Finance 
Titilayo Ufomata, PhD, Provost and Senior Vice President

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