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Responding in the spirit of our mission

Dear members of the SLU community,

You may be aware that students and other St. Louis community members have announced plans for a rally on SLU’s campus this evening at the clock tower.

I write today to share – and emphasize the need for – a sense of calm and a commitment to our Jesuit mission and values. 

As we did in October 2014, we intend to meet peace with peace, permitting our students to engage in advocacy while ensuring that the work of the institution continues. 

SLU is committed to free expression and civil discourse, as outlined in our Policy on Speech, Expression, and Civil Discourse. That policy is clear: We embrace engagement with challenging ideas as a necessary – if sometimes uncomfortable – component of our mission to pursue truth. However, violence, threats, intimidation, harassment, and disruptions to University operations are not permitted. Student conduct expectations are outlined in SLU’s Student Handbook.

The University is also committed to the safety and well-being of the entire SLU community – especially our students, whom we are entrusted to mentor and guide. It is my expectation that any visitors to our campus will share the same commitment. 

We have created a number of plans to ensure that faculty, staff and students can continue to teach, learn, study and work on campus this evening. We encourage you to wear or carry your SLU ID to ensure you can access the campus spaces you need to.

It may be helpful to know that SLU students have organized a number of rallies and protests on our campus since last November. While at times loud, all of these demonstrations have been well-managed, student-led, and peaceful. This is largely due to the planning and leadership of our student leaders, who have worked with DPS leadership on site to support student safety.

Over the past several months, we have established guidelines and routines that have served us well. This evening, SLU leaders from across divisions will continue to engage with SLU student leaders to ensure the safety and well-being of our community:

We recognize that there are members of our community who have felt anxious or fearful because of the very presence of these protests. We are making intentional efforts to reach out to those students, faculty and staff and to provide proactive support to them. Please remember that a range of well-being resources are available for SLU faculty, staff and students – do not hesitate to access them or to refer them to others.

During my tenure here at SLU, we have, on numerous occasions, transformed moments of conflict into opportunities for challenging dialogue and deepened understanding. I ask that you let our mission and values continue to guide you in the days ahead – to listen even when it is difficult, and to demonstrate in real ways how we care for one another. 


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.