Dear St. Thomas students, faculty and staff,
Hate, bigotry and bias are not accepted at St. Thomas, and those who express hate, bigotry or bias are not welcome here.
The recent event in Brady Hall is not the first time our campus has experienced a racist act.
I am ashamed and disgusted and share the pain and anger that many students, faculty and staff are feeling right now.
We cannot deny that racism and hate continue to exist in our world and at St. Thomas. While our previous efforts to combat the cancer of racism on our campus were well-intentioned, they have fallen short. This moment must be a turning point at St. Thomas – a moment where we significantly and sustainably increase our efforts to become a more diverse community that openly welcomes and respects the dignity of all.
As I have spoken with many students, faculty and staff over the past few days, the most consistent and loudest message I have heard is “We want action.” I could not agree more. Several types of actions have been suggested based on best practices, our work around our strategic priority of “Embracing our Differences as One Human Family,” and the needs and lived experiences of those in our community.
Thus, today I commit to an Action Plan to Combat Racism, which includes a number of short-term and long-term actions. We will continually build on this list of actions. I look forward to hearing additional ideas from students and our community in the days and weeks to come. The implementation details for many of these actions require further work, and we will do this together. Click here to read the plan.
I commit to keeping this work at the forefront of our ongoing priorities and pledge to be accountable for the implementation of actions and to be transparent about the outcomes.
As a first action included in the short-term list, I invite all students, faculty and staff to attend a campus-wide meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, in the field house of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex (AARC). We have canceled classes on Wednesday afternoon to allow as many as possible to attend this important event. The program for students, faculty and staff will last for one hour. At 2 p.m., the student program will conclude, and faculty and staff will be encouraged to stay for employee education and training. We expect this portion of the program to end no later than 4 p.m.
The event will be a visible kickoff to our entire university’s commitment to action and is a critical step in boldly addressing systemic racism and hate in our community. As the members of our Anti-Racism Coalition have expressed, “To be free of racism is not simply an ideal, but an essential right for every dignified human being, and upholding this right is the responsibility of everyone in our community.”
I know in my heart we care for one another and for St. Thomas. Our future depends on our ability to recognize each other as a neighbor whom God calls us to love and as a human being created in the image of God.
Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.