August 17, 2017

A message from President ReBecca Roloff regarding Charlottesville

August 16, 2017

It is hard for me to imagine what I can possibly say about what happened in Charlottesville this weekend to make up for what has not been said.

Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are near and dear to many of our hearts. We have our own St. Kate's Occupational Therapy Assistant online students who live in and near to Charlottesville, in addition to many alumnae who call that area home. My son and daughter-in-law are both University of Virginia graduates, so my husband and I have been on the campus and on the Mall many times. To see it be a place of hate and violence is almost beyond comprehension.

However, what happened in Charlottesville, and what it represents, is a new level of ignorance and hate that we all must fight. This is not about politics; this is about principle. It is about the radical principles that this country was founded upon — equality and freedom. As a nation we have failed many times to act upon the principles of equality and freedom. Historically, by working together, we have successfully brought about changes that resulted in increased equity and access for all Americans. We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history. As an institution of Catholic Higher Education that welcomes a rich diversity of students and employees to our community and is grounded in social justice, we are renewed in our conviction to act with integrity and to challenge actions that violate the founding principles of this great country.

We must commit ourselves to the truth of what is happening in this nation. There is a long journey ahead now that the thin veneer of civility has been shattered. As a university community, we must therefore redouble our efforts to educate our students to recognize and challenge hatred and racism. We must also, especially those of us who are white, dedicate ourselves to our own education and commitment to understand the structural racism that exists in our society. Then we must continue the hard work to eliminate it.

The very fact that St. Catherine University exists is a statement. In the spirit of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, we are called to respond to the needs of our time. Peace and justice are our choice in every single interaction we have, every moment of every day. If there ever was a time to pray for our civic leaders at every level of responsibility, this is the time.

Becky