From Grief to Action
Update: June 2, 2020
Click here to view the Provost's message on how our institution is building bridges in our pursuit of service to humanity.
May 31, 2020
Once again American society is witnessing outrage over the systemic racism that has led to the murders of women and men of color in the past weeks. The response understandably has been anger and fierce opposition to those who have betrayed their charge of upholding the law and protecting people by abusing their power and committing these heinous crimes of violence. Members of our own community feel these tragedies on a very personal level, yet again, and are not “all right.” We have also seen prejudice and hostility against people of Asian descent who are inappropriately being blamed for the outbreak of the coronavirus. We are keenly aware that members of black and brown communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of infection and mortality. Naturally, we want to express solidarity with the individuals, families, and communities of color who continue to be victimized unjustly. But words are not and never will be enough.
As I said in my address at last September’s Faculty Convocation:
... just issuing statements about tragedy and injustice is not the calling of our University, nor of me as our president. It is too easy for us to add our comments to a cacophony of others and feel in some way as though we did our part, took a stand, and will impact change through our mere words. The lists grow long with each successive horrible tragedy but are soon forgotten when the next tragedy strikes, which it does with predictable regularity.
In short, it is easy to just talk. The more that university presidents—the more that I on behalf of Loyola University Chicago—have to confirm formal opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, white supremacy, misogyny, domestic terrorism, or any of the social malignancies that tear at our democracy, the more ineffective such statements become. Make no mistake, we are vehemently in opposition to each and every one of these. However, our society does not need more statements from me. It needs more education and action from all of us.
I want to reassure everyone that I, as President, and we as the Loyola community are outraged at the acts of violence perpetrated by police against people of color in the United States. The real question is what are we going to do about contributing to healing this cancer within American society? Loyola University Chicago is called to reconcile, repair, heal, and educate. We are called to act.
I am calling on our Loyola community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to find ways to come together and respond to the scourge of white supremacy and what Pope Francis has called the globalization of indifference. University experts, we need you and your expertise in law, medicine, public health, economics, ethics, criminal justice, social work, education, sustainability, history, sociology, and so many other vital fields now more than ever to help us ask the right questions and develop actionable responses.
How do we begin to change our society, being unafraid to tackle the most vexing of society’s problems? How do we reflect right ordered relationships where possessions, money, and power are not more important than people? Channel your outrage and use the energy to devise solutions to these problems that plague us. Our people of color must stop having to live in fear of the police, in fear of getting mortally sick, and in fear of losing a dangerous, low-paying job because there is no alternative. This is our problem. We must address it because that is what we are called to do.
I have asked Provost Grzywacz to bring together the experts across all of our schools to work together to offer concrete solutions to making change happen. An announcement from the Provost’s Office will be forthcoming this week. Let us pray for peace, for the victims and their families, for our society, and for our willingness and commitment, as Loyolans, to embrace the challenge that is before us.
Jo Ann Rooney JD, LLM, EdD