June 1, 2020
Dear Ursuline College Community:
This past weekend we all saw thousands of people across the country gather for peaceful demonstrations of outrage against pervasive, systemic racism, evidenced again in last week’s suffocation of George Floyd, a handcuffed-African American man in Minneapolis. In many cities, including Cleveland, some of those peaceful demonstrations turned violent, when anger and frustration erupted.
Meanwhile, yesterday the Catholic Church and many other Christian traditions celebrated Pentecost Sunday, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Holy Spirit, according to Church teaching, brings the gift of wisdom.
We never needed it more.
We need wisdom to root out racism and hatred from our culture and our community. We need wisdom to identify and address blatant discrimination as well as more subtle but pervasive aggression toward people of color. We need wisdom to discern how best, in the year ahead, to equip our students and ourselves with new tools for calling out bigotry when we see it.
We will look to Yolanda King, our assistant dean for diversity, Paula Fitzgerald, our campus minister, and Deborah Kamat, our director of compliance/chief civil rights investigator, to continue to develop enlightening programming for students faculty and staff and to enforce the College’s strong policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin and other protected classes. We will look to faculty to continue to convey the history of racism, the reality of white privilege, and Catholic Social Teaching on the dignity of every human being. We will look to community partners like the YWCA and others who share the shame and anguish we feel in the face of brutality and bigotry. We will look to our political and civic leaders to promote justice. And we must look in our own hearts for the resolve to speak out against hatred in all forms.
For Christians, there is a Gospel obligation to work for justice. In 1973, Pope Paul VI charged us, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Today, almost fifty years later, we need to act on his message even more.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Standing together in prayer and in determination to supplant racism with justice and equality,
Sr. Christine De Vinne, OSU, PhD
Ursuline College President