A Call from White Students to End White Silence at SLU

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As a Saint Louis University community, we take pride in truly living the Jesuit mission of “being men and women for and with others.” As students, we are encouraged to pursue social justice both inside and outside the classroom: asking difficult questions, creating spaces for dialogue, and affirming the inherent human dignity of each and every person. We urge all students, faculty, staff, and community members to hold SLU accountable to the ideals that we have set for ourselves. Each of us must actively create a campus culture of justice, transparency, and inclusivity.“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” (Desmond Tutu).

We write today because we are concerned, frustrated, and aware of the hurt caused by the anti-Black bias incident involving our baseball team. We believe that comments such as these, whether made in a public or in a private setting, are detrimental to the overall culture and reputation of our institution. Racism and white supremacy in a private setting is still racism and white supremacy, and we as white students cannot remain silent any longer.

We recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but rather points to a culture on the baseball team, in the Athletic Department, and at SLU in general. Not including the issue at hand, there have been seven bias incidents so far this semester. Every year, we witness a seemingly endless list of bias incidents, many of which target students of color. Despite Black and Brown students continuously speaking out and demonstrating against these racist remarks and actions, bias incidents continue to occur on our campus with seemingly little recourse. While we want to trust in the protocol that is in place, we are frustrated by the frequency of such events and the apathy of our fellow white students.

Students of color have long spoken out against similar bias incidents, and it is time for white folks to recognize our role in the solution and to end our silence regarding the racism ingrained in our campus community. While the offensive remarks of our baseball team were made by two players, their teammates did not speak out against them. This is indicative of the culture of white silence at SLU regarding racism. We should not tolerate these comments by any members of our community.

We are hopeful for the ways that restorative justice can be implemented on SLU’s campus. Traditionally, disciplinary actions happen behind closed doors, and the details of these meetings are not made public. A process of restorative justice represents an opportunity to engage the entire SLU community in the healing process. While we believe that this process has many advantages over punitive disciplinary action, we want to ensure that this process is used fairly and effectively. If white baseball players have access to a restorative justice process, this option should be extended to all students of color facing disciplinary action at SLU.

It is unfortunate that SLU has received such negative media attention in relation to this latest bias incident; however, we are aware that it often takes a catalyzing event to shock us out of our complacency. As members of a Jesuit institution, white folks at SLU must be a part of creating a culture that rejects racial intolerance. We must be willing to have the hard conversations with our friends, family, and community members. On our predominantly white campus, we must listen to and elevate the voices of Black and Brown students who are drawing attention to racist attitudes, words, and actions. If we don’t actively resist this culture on campus, we passively accept it. Our silence is violence, and we will not be silent anymore.

The names below are students who have pledged to break the white silence at Saint Louis University. To add your name, please visit: http://goo.gl/forms/6jqIuITkaa

Abbie Amico

Caroline Belden

Lizzie Corcoran

Raquel Dominguez

Alexa Drouin

Jason Ebinger

Sean Ferguson

Lexi Hucker

Taylor Jackson

Emily Lustig

Theresa Martin

Joe Milburn

Sarah Nash

Claire Peterson

Theresa Schafer

Erica Seal

Erik Solorio

Liz Vestal

Kristina Vidovic

Alex Hanel