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Our Continued Call for Civil Discourse

November 10, 2021

To the members of our SLU community, 

Over the last few days, Saint Louis University’s Office of Student Responsibility and Community Standards was made aware of possible violations of the University’s Community Standards involving a student organization’s approved campus display and various responses, interactions and actions surrounding it. The Office is actively conducting investigations of those reports with the assistance of the Department of Public Safety. 

The University takes seriously any alleged violation of our Community Standards, and has policies and processes in place to address concerns when they are reported.  Those policies will be followed in this case, as they are in all others. 

As a matter of federal law, SLU is required to assure the privacy of every student. This requires SLU to keep its investigations and decisions in matters like these confidential. This may be a frustration to some members of our community and most certainly a frustration to many who have drawn conclusions based upon tweets and other social media posts. Nonetheless, SLU's actions in this matter will be guided by our established procedures, as well as our obligations under the law.

Our larger society seems to possess more willingness to identify what divides, rather than to embrace what brings us together.  In the spirit of the Jesuit mission of our university, one which we readily embrace, let us reject the impulse to judge others without compassion, or to assume that disagreement must lead to condemnation.

As a university community we value the civil exchange of ideas, even those ideas that we may find repugnant. Dialogue, active listening and respectful encounters are essential to our identity as a Catholic, Jesuit university inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius. In order to begin shifting how we communicate during difficult times, we will host dialogue sessions for students who want to dig into the position of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and reproduction, the nuances of reproductive health, learn more about different ways to advocate that are generative, and work together to think through viable solutions.

In closing, we acknowledge sharing a diversity of viewpoints on our campus, but sharing must be done in a way that does not violate our Community Standards. Finding understanding and common ground so that we all may continue to learn from each other is essential for the continued success of our university. 

Students, please remember the resources available to you if you have concerns. The following offices are always available and prepared to help you process your experiences, discuss challenges and report concerning behavior:

Sincerely, 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. 
President 

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

Amber Johnson, Ph.D. 
Interim Vice President for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement 

Fr. David Suwalsky, S.J. 
Vice President for Mission & Identity