An Open Letter to Black-identified Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and their Allies

Dear USF Community,

While the events of the last week have been painful and traumatic for so many of us, they have brought forward the devastating impacts of police violence against African Americans in this country. As campus leaders, it is important that we speak out against the relentless atrocities that we are bearing witness to that are unjust and inhumane.

Therefore, the leadership of the University of San Francisco condemns police brutality, institutionalized racism, white supremacy, and systemic social injustices that have led to the deaths of too many Black people in the U.S. and globally.

We grieve and stand with the family of Ahmaud Arbery who was murdered while jogging in Georgia by two white men.

We stand with Christian Cooper who was the victim of a white woman’s attempt to use the police as a weapon against him as he was bird watching in New York City’s Central Park.

We stand with Breonna Taylor, an essential worker during this pandemic, who was killed in her home by police.

We stand with George Floyd, who was senselessly killed by a Minneapolis police officer while onlookers begged the officer to release the pressure from his neck and as Mr. Floyd spoke the same words as Eric Garner, who was similarly slain: “I can’t breathe.”

We affirm that Black Lives Matter, and we stand in solidarity with those who protest injustice and rise up against dehumanization. We affirm and embrace the tenets of racial justice taught by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and brought alive at USF through our Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice.

We stand with the Black Student Union at the University of San Francisco in making this statement in response to their demands. We affirm and support their desire to lead USF to new ways of living, learning, and working together as a community.

We cannot forget that our commitment to living a "faith that does justice" is rooted in narratives of liberation of the oppressed. The institutionalized racism and white supremacy that pervades our culture is antithetical to the Jesuit values that define USF.

As members of the university’s leadership, we will reflect on the times that we have not supported or actively responded to Black-identified students, faculty, and staff when they have engaged in anti-racist activism or called out racist policies and practices.

We know actions speak more loudly than words and that as a university we must embody the values we profess through concrete actions of solidarity for and with those resisting anti-Black violence in this moment.

We recognize that our Black colleagues, Black students, and Black alumni may have lived with high levels of uncertainty and anxiety at the hands of our silence, our complicity, and our exclusion. We have heard this, yet our responses need to be different. Our responses must be aligned with depth and significance of the reality Black people have long experienced. We pledge to listen more intently in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead — and to work to implement concrete change in our community.

We commit to become race-conscious and equity-minded in our leadership practice including our decision making, management oversight, and policy development.

We commit to doing the hard yet necessary work to uncover our own bias, prejudices, and unintentional yet complicit behaviors that harm Black people and hold us back in becoming allies individually and collectively.

We commit to always working with humility toward equity in our community, knowing that this is a constant self-reflective work in progress. We commit to our goal of working toward an even better and more productive understanding of how our values and our mission can be put into action to end anti-Black racism.

We promise to follow up with information on specific actions and plans. We will work with members of our community, and provide a timeframe for immediate actions this summer, throughout the fall semester, and beyond. We promise to involve and collaborate with our community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni in developing and communicating these specific actions.

In solidarity,

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.

Tyrone H. Cannon
Interim Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs

Margaret Wooding Baker
Dean, School of Nursing and Health Professions

Pamela Balls Organista
Interim Vice Provost and Special Assistant to the Provost

Opinder Bawa
Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Michael Beseda
Vice Provost, Strategic Enrollment Management

Erin Brigham
Chair, University Council for Jesuit Mission

Shawn P. Calhoun
Interim Dean, University Library

Marcelo F. Camperi
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Charlie Cross
Vice President, Business and Finance

Dominic L. Daher
Associate Vice President, Tax Compliance, Internal Audit, and Payroll Services

Donna Davis
General Counsel

Julie Dowd
Director, University Ministry

Susan Freiwald
Dean, School of Law

Timothy S. Godfrey, S.J.
Rector of the Jesuit Community

Jeff Hamrick
Vice Provost, Institutional Budget, Planning, and Analytics

Donald E. Heller
Vice President, Operations

David Kirmse
Associate Vice President and Director, Educational Technology Services

Shabnam Koirala-Azad
Dean, School of Education

Stacy Lewis
Associate Vice President, Finance and Treasury

Michael E. London
Associate Vice President, Facilities Management

Anneliese Mauch
Associate Vice President, Marketing

Lindsey McClenahan
Associate Vice President, Development

Shirley McGuire
Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs

Charles T. Moses
Dean, School of Management

Srini Navaneethan
Associate Vice President and Director, Technology Services

Neva T. Nguyen
Associate Vice President, Accounting and Business Services

Julie Orio
Vice President, Student Life

Martha Peugh-Wade
Associate Vice President, Compliance and Compensation

Ellen Ryder
Vice President, Marketing Communications

Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi
Vice Provost, Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach

Peter Wilch
Vice President, Development