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St. Bonaventure University

A Call for Solidarity from President DePerro

May 31, 2020 |

At tragic and trying times like these that engulf our nation, helplessness consumes us.

The killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis have unleashed a torrent of rage in our nation that we haven’t witnessed in more than 50 years. The rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans being targeted because of the coronavirus pandemic is almost an afterthought, but no less reprehensible.

Even those who’ve spoken out passionately against societal injustice, who cling to the most precious tenet of a nation that claims to believe in “liberty and justice for all,” must have moments of resignation that nothing will ever change.

Those feelings are understandable. They are not acceptable.

Our value proposition is clear: We are a Franciscan community that affirms the unique dignity of everyone, each person reflecting the goodness of God, and we invite all of our sisters and brothers to forge bonds of mutual acceptance and understanding that create a true sense of belonging.

As a community of educators whose mission “embraces students, faculty and staff of all faiths and culture,” we have to be agents of change. We can do that this fall by prioritizing programming for our students.

In the meantime, all we can do now, as meaningless as words might seem, is talk as a community about our anger and our pain and how we can stand in solidarity – actively not passively – with one another. As expressed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace."

SBU’s Presidential Committee on Equity and Inclusion will facilitate Zoom conversations at 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday for members of our campus community to share their feelings. The committee believes, and so do I, that the inability to be together physically does not excuse our responsibility to learn, to listen, and to engage. 

The link to join the Zoom conversations will be sent Monday in a Notice Board. I encourage members of our community to participate.

These divisive wounds will take more than time to heal. For us, this Bonaventure community, it will take deep introspection to see if we are truly abiding by the values we claim to live by: compassion, wisdom and integrity. A committee here worked tirelessly last year not just to hone in on those three values, but to clearly define them so they didn’t ring hollow. Please read them.

I ask you to join me in prayer for our nation.

Peace and all good, 

Dr. Dennis R. DePerro
University President