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Finding Solace and Strength in Community

January 27, 2023

Dear members of the SLU community,

Since Tyre Nichols died on January 10, we have mourned along with the Memphis community. As you may know, five police officers were indicted yesterday for his murder. Memphis authorities have announced that, this evening, they will release video footage of the violence that led to Mr. Nichols’ death – images that have been called “horrific” and “appalling.”

We have written to the SLU community several times in similar moments – awaiting the announcement of an indictment, or of a verdict. Once again we are compelled to mourn and condemn the tragic and unjust loss of a Black life. 

We do not know precisely what time this evening the video will be released, but we can sense the depth and the range of responses it may evoke. Rage, horror, sadness, confusion and fatigue. The reactions and feelings that can accompany deep grief and the endurance of many such losses.

As a Catholic, Jesuit university, we believe that our community and our mission can be sources of comfort, healing, and strength. 

This evening, several welcoming spaces will be available for students to gather, and to find community and support: 

7-9 p.m.
Black Student Alliance space
BSC 126
A space to gather with BSA for food and community.

7-9 p.m.
Wuller Hall
2nd floor Well Space
Space to decompress, relax, and engage with art materials. Counselors will be available to connect with students. Snacks will be offered.

7-9 p.m.
Center for Global Citizenship
Main Floor
Informal gathering with resources and snacks available. DICE staff will be on site. 

7-8 p.m.
Moderated virtual space
Fill out this form to receive a Zoom link.

Our thanks to SGA, BSA, DICE, Student Development, HRL, DPS, University Counseling Center, Center for Social Action, Student Involvement Center, Campus Ministry and African American Studies for coming together and organizing these spaces with such urgency and care.

Remember also that well-being resources are available for all faculty, staff, and students. 

  • Students may access 24-hour support by calling 314-977-TALK (8255) and pressing option #9 to be connected to a behavioral health nurse.
  • Employees may access EAP resources 24 hours a day by calling 800-859-9319. Human Resources is arranging on-campus access to EAP resources next week; more details will follow.

Today and in the coming days and weeks, we must continue to hear the urgent call of our mission. Each one of us can and must be contributors to the end of systemic racism, and to the creation of a more just world. We must sustain our faith in what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the “Beloved Community.” We must be living proof that love and committed action can and will lead to lasting change.

In the spirit of Dr. King, we also echo the family members of Tyre Nichols, who have pleaded for peace in all protests that may follow the release of the video later this evening. 

May God bless each of you. Let us continue to find solace and strength in this community. 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. 

Michael Lewis, Ph.D.

Rochelle D. Smith
Vice President for Diversity & Innovative Community Engagement

Sarah K. Cunningham, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development