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A Statement from the President on the Charlottesville Tragedy

Dear members of the SLU community,

This weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the United States witnessed yet another attack against humanity that was motivated by hate, fear, bigotry, and racism. Just last week, a mosque in Minnesota was bombed. It is regrettable that the ubiquity of these events has made commonplace the issuing of statements in their wake. Inevitably, issues fall through the cracks, and some are left wondering if their experience is important, if their life is valued, or if the SLU community cares because of the silence. With all my being, the answer is unequivocally, yes!

At Saint Louis University, we promote freedom of speech, yet we will always condemn using that right to propagate hate, reinforce oppression, and dehumanize our neighbors. The Ku Klux Klan, white-supremacists, and neo-Nazis do just that. We cannot pretend that the atrocious attack this weekend, which caused lives to be lost, is unique to Charlottesville. Our city and our University must recognize the reality of where our own histories have also crossed paths with injustice and continue our commitment to a writing a more just future.

On Nov. 29, 2016, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion shared an “Open Letter to the SLU Community: In Opposition to Hate and Hate Crimes.” All were invited to sign the letter in support and hundreds did. The letter is attached below along with the list of signatures to date. I ask the SLU community again to consider signing onto the open letter below by clicking here, and join me in “standing firm against any phobia or –ism that promotes hatred or division.”


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.