Dear La Salle colleagues and students:
Today is Pentecost. Saint John Baptist de La Salle writes at the end of Meditation for the Eve of Pentecost: “Send forth your Spirit to give us a new life, and you will renew the face of the earth.”
Right now, we are struggling to make sense of the world around us. As we continue to navigate the daily impacts of COVID-19 in our midst, we are reminded of our interdependence and the need to make decisions that support the good of the broader community. And yet, we now find ourselves facing the unspeakable death of George Floyd, a death that has spurred communities across the nation to speak out in loud, and sometimes violent, protest. The fact and manner of Mr. Floyd’s death are amply tragic in and of themselves; it is, however, what this death reveals about ourselves, as a community, that should prompt the greatest reflection and concern.
As members of a Lasallian community, we recommit ourselves daily to our mission, including our core value of service, rooted in solidarity and justice. We are called “to stand with those impoverished and marginalized, to identify inequity and exclusion created by society, and actively respond not merely with charity, but with courage, creativity, and compassion.”
How do we view the events of these recent days, through this lens, committing ourselves to justice and standing in solidarity with the marginalized? How do we “renew the face of the earth”? As we saw yesterday across the country, there are deep wounds, and healing these wounds will require an approach that includes the examination of a profound, systemic, and resistant legacy of racial discrimination and social inequality in this nation.
Today, faced by stark videos and photographs from yesterday, we acknowledge that one’s perspective, lived experiences, identity, and privilege are factors that make consensus on the value of these demonstrations highly unlikely. What we can agree upon, however, is that inaction and passive acceptance of the events surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death are unacceptable and run counter to our mission as Lasallians.
We know that many in our community have lived experience, which makes these events, from various perspectives, even more difficult to manage and process. You may have those close to you who have experienced violence such as this. You may have directly experienced the kind of racism that underlies these events. You may also have those close to you who are living lives of unselfish and virtuous service, committed to keeping our communities safe and productive. Or, like many, you may not have had these direct experiences and yet you feel helpless and discouraged. What unites us as Lasallians is the need to support one another and to come together as a community in ways that allow our voices to be heard as we speak for those who are unable to do so.
Plans are now being assembled to gather our community in the coming days for an important conversation on this topic. As these critical conversations have already begun to take place across many pockets of our La Salle family, this will be another step to advance this conversation and seek ways to support positive action in the days ahead. Please watch your email for details regarding an Explorer Café that is being developed.
For those among us who are finding themselves severely impacted by these events, support and counseling services are available. The Student Counseling Center is accessible weekdays during regular business hours by calling 215-951-1355 and leaving a message. An after-hours telecounseling service is available weekdays and throughout the weekend by calling 215-951-1355 and pressing option #2. The Employee Assistance Program provides all La Salle employees with expert support to help manage stress and anxiety, 24/7, by calling 1-800-854-1446. La Salle’s telemedicine service, Doctor on Demand, provides mental health services in addition to medical care. (These services are available at no cost to employees insured through La Salle, and for a fee for those who are not.)
Additional resources are available, as well, by contacting University Ministry, Service and Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) and La Salle’s Multicultural and International Center (215-951-1948).
Let’s unite in prayer and continue to practice compassion and courage.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D.
Brian Baptiste, J.D.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation
Kevin E. Dolan, Esq.
Vice President of Strategy and General Counsel
Joseph C. Meade
Chief of Staff
Brother Ernest J. Miller, F.S.C., D. Min.
Vice President, Mission
Vice President, University Advancement
Angela Polec, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice President, Strategic Communications and Marketing
Vice President, Finance and Administration
Dawn Meza Soufleris, Ph.D.
Vice President, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
Lynne A. Texter, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs