Reflections Following a Tragedy on Campus
June 25, 2021
Dear members of the Saint Louis University community,
We awoke this morning to learn of another devastating, officer-involved shooting. This one right here at SLU.
A white Department of Public Safety officer shot and killed a Black man near a University building close to our north campus. While we await the facts of the tragedy, we know that officer-involved shootings inflict vicarious trauma on our communities, particularly among our Black and Brown friends and neighbors.
We know that as we work to cultivate change for the betterment of our local communities and our nation, we must also navigate healing from new tragedies. We must be adamant that everyone’s safety is important on and around our St. Louis campuses, regardless of their connection to our University.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of the man who was killed. They are suffering today and wondering why this happened to their loved one. Members of the SLU community, especially our Black students, faculty and staff, are hurting, too.
We also know that this tragic death is affecting the public safety officers involved and their own families, some of whom are also Black.
It is up to all of us to be in community with each other in engaging with those who are dealing with the sadness, pain and trauma resulting from this tragedy.
In the past year, much work has been done to ensure our campus community is safer for everyone. Many of our Black students, faculty and staff have been a part of that initiative. Our University mission now calls us to redouble those efforts.
The enormity of this tragedy cannot be lost on any of us. It is the first time in SLU’s history that someone has been killed by a public safety officer. As members of a Jesuit institution, we recognize that all loss of life presents an enormous tragedy, and impacts all of those involved. We must do everything we can to prevent it from happening in the future.
I ask you to pray for all of those whose lives have been affected by this shooting, and to be there for them with the compassion and caring that are so much a part of who we are as a Jesuit University.
I also ask that you take care of yourselves and your loved ones through this time.
Faculty and staff can arrange professional counseling through SLU's Employee Assistance Program by calling 800-859-9319.
Students can contact a trained and licensed staff therapist 24/7 through the University Counseling Center (UCC) by calling 314-977-TALK (8255). The Eckelkamp Center for Campus Ministry can be reached at 314-977-2425, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Dean of Students Office (email@example.com) can also serve as support for you to navigate campus resources as well as simply listen and guide you in managing your health and well-being.
The past week has been a painful one for our community. We have been reminded of how fragile life is, how suddenly lives can profoundly change, and how desperately we need each other.
Yours in prayer,
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.