Community Statement on Hate, Bigotry, and Violence

Posted on August 25th, 2017 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Rebecca Bergman
SUBJECT: With hope and conviction
DATE: August 25, 2017

As students return to campus for the academic year and we welcome the Class of 2021 to Gustavus, I write today to affirm our mission and share a message of hope.

Given the recent events and tragic loss of life in Charlottesville, Virginia, let me first be very clear about where we stand at Gustavus. We will not tolerate hate, violence, or bigotry. We condemn racism, anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic actions or language, and any rhetoric that promotes white supremacy or the supremacy of one racial, ethnic, or faith group above any other.

Our mission compels us to be a “community of persons from diverse backgrounds who respect and affirm the dignity of all people.” I expect that we will hold ourselves and each other accountable to this standard.

At the core of our Lutheran tradition is a commitment to speak out against hatred and violence and a belief that love is stronger than hate. Bishop Jon Anderson, who serves on the Gustavus Board of Trustees and leads the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA, recently wrote an eloquent piece discussing recent events in this country. I invite you to read it. For me, it frames the challenge we face in lamenting hateful incidents and committing to action that will create positive societal change.

As I once again pledge myself and this college to mutual respect and our core value of justice, I call upon the Gustavus community to join together to celebrate the shared humanity of all. Gustavus must continue to be a welcoming place of equity and inclusion, a place that challenges us to think critically, to seek understanding across differences, and to continually work to build a better world.

As we begin this year’s journey, let us pursue these ideals together, resolute in our commitment to justice and to one another.

With hope and conviction,

President Bergman


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