Dear Avila Community,
I am saddened, angry, devastated. The hate, violence, oppression, and injustices that people of color and indigenous communities suffer daily is a centuries-old pandemic. We must do more today to end the racism that has brought us to this point in history. We must come together to heed the call for justice that is at the foundation of Avila University, and of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ). I hope you will read the statement that the CSJ St. Paul Provence released last week and find ways to support active justice in a peaceful, non-violent manner as demonstrated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
As members of a CSJ community, Love of the Dear Neighbor without Distinction must be more than just words. To be true to our mission:
- We are called to practice our values of respecting the worth, dignity, and potential of all.
- We are called to value diversity and its expression through active listening to others in our community.
- We are called to find ways to support justice for all in a peaceful, non-violent manner as demonstrated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
- We are called to speak out when we see injustices as our silence only adds to the problem.
We are all people of one God, who are called upon to love and care for one another. Together, we are more.
Please take time today to explore the ways you can more fully reflect and act upon our core values.
Take care of yourself. Peace begins with you. The 24-hour news cycle and social media bombardment are wearing. Take a break. Walk. Sit in the sun. Call a friend. Pray about this, then ask for help. Avila students can schedule free services through the Counseling Center. Counseling services for Avila employees is available through New Directions, our Employee Assistance Program.
Check-in on others. We are angry, frustrated, fearful, overwhelmed, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re physically isolated with our feelings. Reach out to others. You don’t have to have the answers; listening with empathy, being open to understanding is an important start.
Remain involved. No effort is too small. Write letters to your elected officials. Volunteer. Practice our values of respecting the worth, dignity, and potential of all through active listening. Learn more about the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Stand in solidarity with the communities that are hardest hit by current events.
Avoid sweeping generalizations. While we condemn the actions of the officers responsible for the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, these individuals do not represent all law enforcement officers. There are examples in some cities where law enforcement officers engaged in positive and constructive actions with people who are protesting. We support those who do their jobs in a fair, just, and compassionate manner, while we condemn and wish to bring to justice those who perpetrated this murder or stood ideally by while it occurred.
Be reflective. We can do more. Take a moment to contemplate and examine your own purpose and actions. Remember that racism is real and affects us all. Recommit yourself to inclusiveness and to active listening while finding ways to support active justice for all.
As we prepare to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to the Avila campus, I hope that you will share the ways that we as an Avila community can more fully embrace our core values as a CSJ Institution in both our words and deeds.
Ronald Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA