Nearly 600 St. Thomas community members gathered virtually over Zoom for the 2020-21 academic convocation, in which two important topics – the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice – were frequently addressed.
St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan released the following statement in response to Tuesday’s news that the U.S. government has agreed to rescind Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules, which would have barred international students from remaining in the U.S. if their colleges and universities were forced to move classes completely online due to COVID-19.
Our community and our nation are experiencing immense distress and pain over all that surrounds the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policemen. George Floyd – one more black man in generations of black people who have been victims of systemic and relentless racism. And while this time it is under our noses in the Twin Cities, it’s rampant and persistent across our nation, and yet again we resoundingly say, “Enough is enough!” How many times can we say this? Have we lost our credibility? Where is our humanity?
George Floyd – a father and family member, a colleague and friend to many – should be alive today. We must encourage and protect the rights of all to grieve, unite in peaceful protests and publicly demand justice for his tragic death. However, we also must condemn damaging personal property, arson and looting in our commercial districts and neighborhoods.
As we head into the weekend, we want each of you to know that our community is here for you as we collectively reel from and grieve the tragic death of George Floyd. Violence against black communities lives in our history, and racial injustices perpetuate today. This behavior is unacceptable and leaves us concerned for the emotional and physical well-being of our students, staff and faculty.
In front of St. Thomas’ largest virtual gathering since courses moved online, President Julie Sullivan on May 13 provided a glimpse of what an in-person fall semester may look like as the community prepares to guard itself against the COVID-19 virus.