Dean’s response — a letter to our students
Reflections on Violence and Unrest
“Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
To our Marauders – our students:
My heart is heavy. After speaking with several students, parents, and members of the faculty and staff over the last few days I wanted to reach out to you personally and directly. Let me start by saying that I unequivocally condemn the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others. This is not and should not be a political statement but rather a matter of basic human dignity. Those Americans did not deserve to die nor did they deserve the mistreatment they received. My parents raised me to believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. I wholeheartedly believe that! It is painful and disheartening to see black lives repeatedly treated as “less than”—systemically, overtly, and covertly—in so many arenas. I honor the sanctity of life by standing with those that are fighting for justice and peace.
Every person deserves to live in a just world that values life. All oppression—including that of Black Americans as well as LGBTQ+ individuals, refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women, people living in poverty, and people with disabilities—negatively affects us all. I challenge you to channel the emotion you feel in this moment and use it to uplift each other, educate each other, and ultimately go out into the world and make a difference. But how? Here are some action items that may help you get started:
Check-in on your friends. We pride ourselves on the fact that being a student at Jesuit means being a part of a brotherhood. Listening and learning from each other and being a support system for each other is an important part of being brothers.
Be an ally and advocate after the outrage ends. Keep the conversation going. Be quick to listen and slow to judge. There is much that we can learn from each other and that will only happen with open, honest dialogue and by continuing to expand your network of friends.
Join a cultural or affinity club. The cultural fair this past spring was a highlight of the year for me. Our cultural and affinity clubs are a great opportunity to learn about and celebrate the richness of our diversity. Those clubs offer a great opportunity to meet new classmates and to learn more about their experiences.
Get involved with the voting process. Educate yourself on the issues and the candidates on the ballot. Even if you are not yet 18, there are ways for you to get involved. Elections, particularly county and state elections, have a tremendous impact on your daily life, so it is important that you use your vote as your voice.
- If you are 18, register to vote.
- If you are 16 or 17, you can pre-register to vote.
- If you are under 16, you can volunteer to register others.
Learn more about racism and what you can do to combat it. Here are a few websites and articles that were shared with me that can help to get you started:
- How Catholics Help Lead Fight Against Racism — American Magazine
- Antiracism Center on Twitter
- Color Lines News on IG
- CivilRights.org on IG
- Good Good Good on IG
Hold me and the other members of the Jesuit Sacramento faculty and staff accountable to continuing to work on improving our school and making it more welcoming for everyone. Here are a couple of resources that I and other administrators at Jesuit have been reading as we continue to formulate additional ways that we can improve our school:
- Former (Higher Education) Chief Diversity Officer—Brenda J. Allen, Ph.D. Facebook Post
- Dr. Robert M. Sellers, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan I’m So Tired
In closing, I will remind you, as I have in the past, that the Dean’s Office is about more than just enforcing the rules. I renew my pledge to you to make the Dean’s Office a place where you can feel safe and you can come anytime you have an issue with which you need help—when we are in school, during the summers, and even after you graduate. If you would like to start that conversation now, you are invited to do so here to begin that dialogue with me and the rest of the administrative team at Jesuit. You can also email or call me directly. And, I welcome you to share this message and these resources with your parents.
While Covid-19 has physically separated us, the Dean’s Office is always just a phone call or email away. If you need anything, please use us as a resource. Finally, I will leave you with the Word of God according to Mark 12:31, which says, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” We can never go wrong when we choose to love.