I spent much of the day yesterday with students, faculty and staff processing what this week’s Presidential Election says about who we are as a nation and as a campus. There are those in our community who are celebrating the election of a president who represents change. Others in our community feel bewildered, unsafe and in the shadows, and that should matter to all of us.
The historical legacies of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, heterosexism and classism run deep in our country, and it is clear that we are a divided nation with very different ideas about what progress means. We must seek to understand the perspectives of all those who have felt left behind during recent decades of economic and social change, and we must affirm the safety of those whose civil rights and human dignity are under threat. If nothing else, this election highlighted the urgent need for a new generation of leaders who are committed to bridging divides and pursuing justice.
What we do at Saint Joseph’s University is more important than ever. Last week Dr. Reed wrote a letter to the SJU community in the The Hawk, in which he shared, “Your Jesuit education sharpens your intellect, tunes your moral compass, and calls you to be active and engaged citizens and forces for good in the world.” Our world faces very real challenges, which was the case last week and last year and long before that. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, we live up to our mission based on how we treat those who have less power in our society.
I urge us to be kind, to listen for understanding and to avoid explaining away that which makes us uncomfortable. We have the choice to be a community that is fractured or a community in which each person’s safety and learning matter to all of us. I hope we aspire to the clarion call of the collective, because that is the promise of a Saint Joseph’s education.
Some of us find strength in community, so the Office of Inclusion and Diversity is offering a space later this morning to process together. Join us for “Making Sense of the Presidential Election” at 11:00 a.m. (Campion Student Center, Doyle Banquet Hall South) and in future opportunities for dialogue. I also encourage you to reach out individually to members of our community to offer and ask for support. Take care of yourself, and keep a special eye on those in our community who feel marginalized.
Thank you as we move forward in solidarity.