A student walks past Ireland Hall October 5, 2016.

Update on the Vandalism of the Blessed Virgin Mary Statue

On Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m., Campus Ministry will host a blessing of a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be placed in Ireland Hall.  The event will begin in the chapel and conclude in Ireland Hall. Students of all faiths are welcome.

The new statue was chosen by peer ministers in conjunction with Campus Ministry. Residence Life is now in the process of preparing a space to place the statue.

The vandalism that occurred to the original statue caused harm to our community. We are pleased that the community has turned this into an opportunity for dialogue and solidarity. Campus Ministry hosted a discussion for students. Students, supported by Campus Ministry, organized a prayer service, and various student groups came together to craft a statement of solidarity.  These events, as well as the upcoming blessing of the new statue, will foster greater empathy and understanding on our campus.

The student conduct process has concluded regarding this incident. Our philosophy regarding all student conduct proceedings is to hold students accountable through appropriate educational and disciplinary sanctions as well as restorative justice practices. The principles of restorative justice align with our Catholic mission, and we infuse these practices when we can.  Click here for more information about our student conduct process.

In this particular case, after a thorough investigation, it was determined that this was not a bias-motivated incident. It was not, as the definition of bias outlines, a "speech or act of intolerance motivated by another's actual or perceived race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, religion or physical or mental disability." For more information about the definition of a bias-motivated incident, click here.

The student who committed the vandalism is of the Christian faith and was intoxicated at the time of the incident. He has come forward to take responsibility and has sincerely apologized.

We have been asked to explain why this event was handled differently than the racial incident that occurred in the fall.  St. Thomas responds to all reported incidents based on the specific facts and circumstances.  These were two different incidents and they warranted different responses.  The racial incident in the fall intentionally targeted an individual in a threatening manner because of the color of his skin.

Our Catholic convictions required us to speak up strongly against this hateful act and to launch several efforts to help us combat racism. Efforts to promote the values of diversity, inclusion, and social justice reflect and enhance the university's Catholic identity. Indeed, we would not be a Catholic university if we did not embrace these values.

We are a strong Catholic community where students of all faiths are welcomed and supported on campus.

We want to stress once again that we investigate all reports and we urge students, staff, and faculty to report any incidents of perceived bias through our online bias-reporting system.