Reaffirming Our Commitment to an Inclusive Community
February 27, 2018
Dear Loyola Community,
As many of you know, we have had two incidents involving students in the past month that, regardless of intent, have been perceived as racially motivated. More importantly, these incidents have greatly upset members of our community. Concerns over occurrences such as these are not limited to any one group; they impact our entire community. Our strength and our foundation lie in our community, and the pain and suffering of any one of us is an issue for all of us.
As a Jesuit, Catholic institution, our core value mandates that we demonstrate care for all people, which includes providing an inclusive environment where students, faculty, and staff of all races, ethnicities, genders, identities, beliefs, and backgrounds feel safe and supported. If even one person feels otherwise, we are falling short and must commit ourselves to listening and working harder to uphold our Jesuit values.
I, along with all of Loyola’s leadership, believe it is essential to speak to these issues, and collectively, we are committed to doing so. As you know, we recently undertook the University’s first Diversity and Inclusion Campus Climate Survey. Initial results identify positive momentum in some areas and also highlight places in which we need to grow and improve. We look forward to sharing this data and beginning community discussions focused on next steps and developing our long-term strategy for improvement. We expect to have results to share with the community upon return from spring break.
Our motivation in collecting such data was to identify gaps and areas in need of improvement and build a plan for implementation and positive change, beginning with intentional dialogue. Such conversations, while challenging, are essential. This is not a simple process with a finite goal. It is, and should be, an ongoing conversation, with continuous assessment and collaborative efforts aimed at finding solutions. Let us begin with the first step in the process of bridging the gaps by engaging in open, courageous, and respectful dialogue.
To that end, we are planning to hold listening sessions with students, faculty, and staff in the second half of spring semester and encourage everyone to participate whenever possible. Please look for the forthcoming dates and further information.
What I am hearing very clearly is that we can and must do more. We need to try harder by listening better with the purpose of understanding and supporting one another. Following the teaching of St. Ignatius, we are women and men for others—and for each other. Let us not forget this, and let us reaffirm this message and focus, especially during these turbulent and unsettling times in our country.
Over spring break, I encourage all of us to reflect on how we can best contribute to this conversation. Our Christian faith compels us to work toward a more just social order, and we must live out this commitment, not just give it passing attention. We must make sure that every voice is heard.
I am confident that as a community bound by our shared Jesuit values and mission, all of us care deeply about making this a better, more inclusive community and will work together tirelessly to do so. As we come together to address the hurt and move from divisiveness toward a culture of support and understanding on our campuses, know that doing so will position us to have a direct and positive impact on our neighbors and the broader community. Let us all strive to ignite compassion and embody inclusiveness in our city, our country, and beyond as we go forth into the world.
Dr. Jo Ann Rooney
President, Loyola University Chicago