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President's Blog: From the Heart

May Love Light Our Path

By Eric F. Spina

Dear University of Dayton community,

We’ve seen the heartbreaking image and heard the pleas from George Floyd, a black man who died on a Minneapolis street under the knee of a white police officer as other officers stood by. Sadly and shamefully, this unjust, unjustifiable death of an African American is not an isolated incident, and the patterns over the past few months have unfortunately become the norm in our country.

The University of Dayton stands in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters —students, faculty, staff, families, alumni, and trustees — in collective pain and sadness. Together, as a University community, let us reach out to salve the pain our friends, classmates, and colleagues are feeling. Together, as a University community, let us pray and work for the end of violence and bigotry that stem from systemic racism and mar our campus, city, and country. This hatred tears at the fabric of our nation, and we must institutionally and individually condemn it and work to counteract it.

We must listen with open hearts to the anger and frustration of African Americans and other people of color, the targets of racist behavior over history. Then, we must examine our hearts — and take a stand on the side of justice, on the side of dignity for all of God’s children.

“Too often racism comes in the form of the sin of omission, when individuals, communities, and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered,” wrote the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their 2018 pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

Today, let us hear the echo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Now is not a time for silence or inaction. It’s a time for solidarity, courageous dialogue, and a renewed commitment to equality and dignity for all. Drawing on our Marianist heritage, we understand that we all share the responsibility for finding a new path forward that upholds and protects the worth and dignity of every person.

As we chart this path, we are fortunate that, just this past winter, UD’s first strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion was unveiled. The “Flyer Flight Plan for Inclusive Excellence” will be an important aspect of our collective response to the challenges in our world and on our campus. As we welcome people back to the University this fall, I look forward to engaging *everyone* in the implementation of the plan and the creation of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus.

While we grieve at the injustice and inhumanity in our midst, we also pray for grace and wisdom to forge this better way forward. May love light that path.

In solidarity,

Eric F. Spina

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