Following last week’s election, events unfolding across the country and on college campuses in our own region have been weighing on me, as I’m sure they have been on all of you. This weekend, I spent considerable time reflecting on how these events are impacting our own campus community and what I might say, especially to students, to encourage us to move forward peacefully, respectfully, and compassionately.
In my reflection, I kept returning to the tremendous faith I have in our community to protect and care for one another, and my strong belief that we will instinctively promote inclusion even when we differ. As Dr. Monica Nixon, assistant provost for Inclusion & Diversity, with my full support, so perfectly expressed in her message to campus last week, “What we do at Saint Joseph’s University is more important than ever.”
And so I was not at all surprised to hear that so many of you made time to come together for last Thursday’s post-election dialogue. Grounded in our mission, it is time for us to stand together as a community, in peace, solidarity, understanding and compassion. We must understand that our own community on Hawk Hill includes those who are celebrating the victory of the candidate they supported, those who are grieving and sense a true loss, and, regrettably, those who feel scared, uncomfortable, and even unsafe. The feelings of our colleagues, friends and classmates are genuine. We must be mindful of them and demonstrate compassion toward one another.
I would like to reiterate my support for our continued efforts to make Saint Joseph’s a place where the dignity of each person is ensured. All incidents that violate our community standards should be reported immediately. If you have wider concerns about yourself, friends, or family at this time, please seek out a staff or faculty member and the full services that the University offers.
Lastly, I am reminded of a question that Pope Francis asked his audience during the Mass he celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul during his visit to Philadelphia last year, “What about you? What are you going to do?” I invite each of us to consider these simple, yet powerful questions. Times of challenge are always ripe with opportunity. Let us face our challenges honestly, openly address what may be uncomfortable and not miss the chance to grow as a community and emerge even stronger.