The following is a letter President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D. sent to the Saint Martin's community in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the related protests and riots over the past few days.
Dear Saint Martin’s students, faculty, staff and abbey members,
The protests and riots over the past few days are a powerful testament to the deep wounds of structural racism and violence in our nation.
We see outrage at the senseless violence committed against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We feel empathy for the protesters expressing their anger and rage at structures of oppression. While we do not condone setting fires, looting or destroying property, we must acknowledge the emotions that our fellow citizens need to express against the racial injustices maintained and perpetuated towards people of color.
This is a time to face uncomfortable truths about our nation’s racial history and the ongoing, oppressive structural racism present across our country, our cities and our neighborhoods – even in our own campus community.
Our Catholic, Benedictine values that guide Saint Martin’s University call us to stand up against the evils of racism, in all its deadly and real manifestations. There is no equivocation regarding our moral responsibility here. Saint Martin’s University must and will stand in solidarity with all those who oppose prejudice, who oppose hate. Saint Martin's will not tolerate, condone or permit hate speech, racism or white supremacy.
I am deeply saddened and frustrated as I’ve written these words to you, our Saints community, after Charlottesville in 2017, after El Paso in 2019 and I am writing them here yet again. But these are convictions that need to be repeated, reiterated and, most importantly, upheld.
This is not a time to fade into complacency. It is a time for each of us to rise and speak up against structural racism in our society. As an institution of higher learning and as a Catholic, Benedictine community, Saint Martin’s has a special role to play in this: we must continue to strive to open minds and build trust.
What the events of this past weekend remind us is that no community is immune to racism. We are not apart from these events in Minneapolis or Louisville. Aware of my own white privilege, I hear and acknowledge that we have much work to do at Saint Martin's.
We must work together to challenge the status quo, to combat injustices, in all its forms, while educating and transforming hearts and minds. We must truly listen and dialogue with one other – students, faculty, and staff – about the evils of racism in our society. This is a time for reflection, solidarity but also action. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Everyone matters in our community.
Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D.
Saint Martin’s University
Read Saint Martin's Provost's letter to community regarding disrupting and dismantling racism >>
Read Saint Martin's Athletic Director's letter to community regarding racist social media post and investigation >>