The five-hundred-year-old Jesuit intellectual and religious tradition that Le Moyne is based upon requires a commitment to justice. This means we must address the social and institutional forces that perpetuate racism and injustice in society at large and in institutions with which we are associated.
In June, in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, Le Moyne hosted four online forums. Current students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators listened to one another share feelings, insights and experiences. Many expressions of pain and anguish were voiced and one thing became abundantly clear: the experiences of people of color at Le Moyne have too often been marked by feelings of marginalization, isolation and sometimes outright hostility. These experiences were consistently described by people of color of all class years represented on the calls, from alumni from the 1960s up to current students.
That these experiences are consistent over decades at Le Moyne reveals an uncomfortable truth. For far too long, both as students and alumni, many of us failed to recognize and confront racism and to work together to transform Le Moyne and make it an anti-racist institution.
For the Le Moyne Alumni Association Board (AAB), a body that is charged with representing all alumni, this poses a difficult question: How can we engage with alumni of color when, for many, their time on the Heights as students was marked by the negative experiences shared during the forums?
The AAB fully supports President LeMura in her efforts to move Le Moyne toward becoming an anti-racist institution as outlined in her June 17 and August 17 messages to the Le Moyne community, particularly the formation of the Racial Justice Committee (RJC). We are confident that these steps will continue to move us toward our mutual goal.
In response to what we heard this summer during the forums and in collaboration with the initiatives of the College and the RJC, we believe the AAB must engage alumni of color and expand their representation among our ranks. Moreover, we join the College in its commitment to become an anti-racist institution and to fully engage alumni of color so that the Le Moyne experience of present and future students of color in no way reflects the stories that were shared during the forums.
To offer our support to the College’s goal to make our shared aspirations reality, the AAB has established a minimum goal of AAB BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) members based upon the percentage of Le Moyne BIPOC alumni. In addition:
- By May 31, 2021, we will develop and implement a mentor program for all alumni to mentor BIPOC students and alumni. (PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT IN PROCESS)
- The AAB Multicultural Committee is charged with identifying the needs and interests of BIPOC alumni and developing programs and events to meet the identified needs. Building upon the success of the HEOP reunion and other BIPOC regional events, we commit to hosting no less than three in person or virtual events per year. (PLANNING IN PROCESS)
- By May 31, 2021, we will amend the AAB By-laws to require that the Chair of the Multicultural Committee appoint a member of that committee to every other AAB committee, ensuring that the voices of students and alumni of color are represented broadly as AAB pursues its goals. (IN PROCESS)
The members of the AAB support President LeMura as she leads Le Moyne to become an anti-racist institution. As representatives and advocates for all Le Moyne alumni, we respectfully ask for your support and your guidance. We acknowledge that we have only begun to learn, understand and change.
We encourage you to join us in our efforts and to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories, your ideas and your hopes for
Le Moyne. For those alumni of color who are reading this message and may be interested in joining us and becoming an active participant in the change underway at the College, please contact us.
We have an opportunity to help build a Le Moyne that fully realizes its aspirations to become a beacon for social justice. While there is much work and more uncomfortable conversations ahead of us, that is a small price to pay to ensure a positive, uplifting and welcoming experience for every Le Moyne student.
Mike Milito '77, president
Giavonni Lucas '95, president-elect
Le Moyne College Alumni Association Board