June 4, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The Presidents of both universities sponsored by Adrian Dominican Sisters recently issued statements and letters to their university communities in response to the recent death of George Floyd, as well as on the ongoing racism in the United States.
Mike Allen, PhD, President of Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, issued the following statement:
Dear Barry University Community,
Similar, I’m certain, to many of you, I am deeply saddened and angered by the senseless death of George Floyd in Minnesota last week. The latest in a string of tragic examples of injustice in our society, it is a struggle to adequately express how events like these strike at the fabric of humanity, the nation, and our Barry University mission.
While words are woefully inadequate and I find it difficult to find the right ones, I am moved to write to our community because remaining silent is not an option.
We must do better.
I know this painful incident strikes a deeply personal chord for so many of our students, faculty and staff. It certainly does for me. As a father in a transracial family, we see and experience race through a unique lens, and l ache for a world that is safer and more just for my children and all children.
I find myself during these times leaning on our Barry University Core Commitments more than ever. Our university community is beautifully diverse, inclusive, welcoming and grounded in the principles of respect for one another and the human dignity of all. These values are hard-earned and require constant attention and nurturing. We must stand up daily to maintain them. We are not perfect, but I believe we are blessed with examples that the broader world desperately needs right now. And with the strength of these examples as a foundation, we must lead.
At Barry we stand with victims of the most flagrant abuses of power and privilege as well as those marginalized by centuries of systematic discrimination. Our power lies in education. We must continue to foster critical dialogue and shift the paradigm by shining a light on past and present injustice.
Today, I call on our students, faculty, staff and alumni to reaffirm their personal commitment to accepting social responsibility, to fostering peace and nonviolence, striving for equality, and leading toward meaningful change through collaborative service.
Thank you to each of you for your many gifts and willingness to share them for the greater good.
Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University in Adrian, issued the following letter:
Dear Siena Heights University Community,
I write this to you with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart. The actions that caused the death of our brother George Floyd and many others are totally unacceptable and an affront to our mission of respecting the dignity of all. Our brown and black brothers and sisters have suffered much too long by our country’s institutional racism and white privilege. We must own our part in all of this, but even more so, transform ourselves with the assistance of others and our God.
As a faith-based university in the Catholic-Dominican traditions, our search for truth is of the utmost importance. And, sometimes, the truth is difficult for us to accept and face. We must take a long, loving look at ourselves and recognize our sinfulness. We must own where we have fallen short by recognizing how we have been a part of oppressing others either consciously or unconsciously.
As an Adrian Dominican-sponsored institution, the Vision Statement of the Adrian Dominicans speaks to our hearts:
We Dominican Preachers of Adrian,
impelled by the Gospel
and outraged by the injustices
of our day
As members of the SHU community we must do the same. Our values and moral fiber impel us to do so.
We at SHU support peaceful protesting but not violence. The violence of the police officer and those who stood around allowing Mr. Floyd to be murdered must not be answered with violence. It must be answered with justice. As we seek justice, may we do so in a manner that creates a truly human civil society where all are respected and valued equally. May we all be transformed to effect positive change within us and among us.
May our voices rise in prayer and may God grant us the courage and insight to do all we must do.