Monday Moments with President Bergman: September 14, 2020

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on September 14th, 2020 by

As you think about community and justice, two of our core values at Gustavus, what comes to mind for you? For a question like this that is multi-layered and nuanced, I often turn first to our College’s mission, core values, and vision statement as a way to get grounded.

President Rebecca M. Bergman

In our description of our core value of justice, this sentence sticks out to me: “We strive to be a just community in all of our actions and to educate our students for morally responsible lives.” Here we see that justice is linked closely to community and that our actions tell the story of our institutional commitment to justice.

In our description of our core value of community, we say this: “Civility, mutual respect, cooperation, shared governance, and a pervasive sense of concern for every member of the Gustavus community are hallmarks of the College.” What stands out to me in this statement is the reminder of how we live in community. I believe that these “hallmarks” are fundamentally important as we work together on racial justice and inclusion.

Making forward progress on the challenges associated with racial injustice and inequity requires each of us to engage in the work at a number of different levels, including personal work, small group work, large group work, and work at the institutional level. We must all lean in and learn more. We must challenge assumptions and examine policies, practices, and procedures. We must create brave spaces across campus that allow people to share their lived experiences. We must consciously commit to actions that create positive change.

I am a white woman, passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and aware that I come to the table with both privilege and power. I come from small towns and big cities. I am mission, values, and family-centered. I care deeply about Gustavus and all the people that are part of the Gustavus community. I have been engaged in the work of DEI for two decades, and I know that I have not done enough.

I truly believe that there has never been a time like the present for systemic change that will make a difference for generations to come. The consciousness of our nation around racial justice has been awakened, and now is the time for us to focus on tangible, deliberate, and meaningful progress. My commitment is this: our goal is to be a leader in matters of racial justice. The President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is working to finalize specific goals for the next three years that will be published soon. Stay tuned — your engagement will be critical to our success.

Until next week, Gusties, please spend some time reflecting on both justice and community, and how you can make a positive difference in our journey toward racial justice and inclusion.

With respect,

Becky

 

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