Our country declares that all humans are created equal, with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In his recent visit to Iraq, Pope Francis reminded us that we are all members of the same human family with equal dignity and worth. Catholic Social Teaching emphasizes the dignity of every human being and calls us to stand in solidarity with all. And here at Le Moyne, we proclaim ourselves “a diverse learning community.” These ideals should guide our lives, but our country, our college, and we, as individuals, have too often and tragically fallen short.
In recent months there has been an alarming increase in acts of violence against Asians and Asian Americans in the U.S. and globally. These violent acts have been driven by racist attitudes, including a strong correlation to political leaders who characterized the pandemic using xenophobic language. Incidents involving physical violence and verbal harassment have harmed many people and left many feeling unwelcome and unsafe. These events continue a shameful history that includes mob violence against Chinese workers; Chinese immigrants working in hazardous conditions for less pay than White workers, while being instrumental in completing the Intercontinental Railroad; legal discrimination through the Chinese Exclusion Act and a court precedent that banned Asians from testifying against Whites (making it difficult to bring a White assailant to justice); the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and high profile killings, such as the murder of Vincent Chin and the recent killing of Vicha Ratanapakdee. We must understand this past, uproot internalized anti-Asian prejudices, and renew our commitment to the ideals of dignity and solidarity that are central to our Jesuit values.
In keeping with those values and our commitment to be women and men for and with others, Le Moyne College condemns violence and abuse that target people because of their race or ethnicity. We call upon all members of our community to oppose discrimination and prejudice as part of our collective work to end racial inequalities at Le Moyne and in our broader communities. Throughout this academic year, many members of the College community have recommended and enacted changes to policies, training, curriculum, and other operations to combat racism and xenophobia in our College. With the help and guidance of the Racial Justice Committee and the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Global Education (IEGE), this work is ongoing.
We must be proactive – learning more about the contributions and struggles of Asian-Americans and reaching out to our Asian community members to show support. In this time of increasing anti-Asian violence, please take a moment to let your Asian American friends, colleagues, and neighbors know that you are dismayed by recent incidents and ask what you can do to help them during this stressful time.
And when Anti-Asian racism occurs, we must react by standing against hate. If you experience or witness an act of bias, we encourage you to seek help. At Le Moyne, you can reach out to IEGE or the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling, or contact the Bias Incident Response Team. If you witness a bias-related incident and it is safe to do so, interrupt such behavior or contact IEGE for help to handle such incidents. We seek nothing less than full inclusion and respect for all members of Le Moyne College and most especially anyone who has been impacted by these recent disturbing incidents.
Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D., President
Joseph Marina, S.J., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Rev. Charles Oduke, Ph.D., Interim Director, Office of Inclusive Excellence and Global Education
Kuukua D. Yomekpe, Co-Chair, Racial Justice Committee
C. Tabor Fisher, Ph.D., Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
Beth Mitchell, Ph.D., President, Faculty Senate Executive Board
Travis Newton, President-Elect, Faculty Senate Executive Board
Shin-Jeng Lin, Ph.D., Past President, Faculty Senate Executive Board
Inga Barnello, Secretary/Treasurer, Faculty Senate Executive Board