JILLIAN SCHULZ • [email protected]@csbsju.edu • Theology Professor Vincent Smiles (left) speaks with history professor Jonathon Nash (middle) and theology professor Laura Taylor (far right) about their joint statement on the events in Charlottesville.

 

By Bridget Lenczewski
[email protected]

On Aug. 11 at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, a group of white supremacists marched at a rally, spreading messages of racism, hate and violence. Many of those involved in the rally and protesting the rally were injured.

Among this divisive, shaky climate, CSB/SJU professors are looking for ways to unite, bringing together people of all different backgrounds.

Theology professors Vincent Smiles and Laura Taylor, history professor Jonathan Nash and political science professor Jim Read drafted a statement in response to the Charlottesville incident and other demonstrations that have broken out across the U.S. Drafted on Aug. 28, the statement reiterates the Benedictine values that members of the CSB/SJU communities strive to embody.

“[We wrote the statement] to confirm the values that our community holds and to show students that we are in support of them in the community because, despite political statements, actions at Charlottesville, hate speech and other things that are going on, we want to create a different kind of environment here,” Taylor said.

“The statement tries as far as possible not to be partied political – it is Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, all political ideologies. Things like white supremacy and cruelty to LGBTQ people everyone should reject,” Smiles said. “It is an attempt to bring
different political parts of the spectrum together.”

In addition, the statement pushes a message of unification and acceptance of diversity, regardless of political affiliations.

“When things come out in the public arena which are very much contrary to our values of inclusivity and non-discrimination and of respect for peoples no matter who they are, then we cannot just leave our values on a website,” Smiles said.

“We have got to be able to articulate what they mean in practice. There are all kinds of different ways in which we can do this – by the way we conduct ourselves, by the way that we teach, by the way that we have discussions in classes and by the way we treat one another on campus.”

The statement currently has 364 signatures from many people affiliated with the colleges – former and current staff members, former and current faculty members, Catholic sisters and Catholic monks.

“I welcome all individuals on this campus, particularly people I disagree with, because I think that I have an opportunity to have dialogue to try to understand their perspectives. I can grow as a human being, and so I relish the opportunity that students will have in the future to have these dialogues that might be difficult at the time but then allow them to grow in which they are going to be the future leaders of the world,” Nash said. “Perhaps, as leaders, if they embody the Catholic social teachings of the Benedictine values they will work to improve the lives of all human beings, all members of the community.”the public arena which are very much contrary to our values of inclusivity and non-discrimination and of respect for peoples no matter who they are, then we cannot just leave our values on a website,” Smiles said. “We have got to be able to articulate what they mean in practice. There are all kinds of different ways in which we can do this – by the way we conduct ourselves, by the way that we teach, by the way that we have discussions in classes and by the way we treat one another on campus.”

The statement currently has 364 signatures from many people affiliated with the colleges – former and current staff members, former and current faculty members, Catholic sisters and Catholic monks.

“I welcome all individuals on this campus, particularly people I disagree with, because I think that I have an opportunity to have dialogue to try to understand their perspectives. I can grow as a human being, and so I relish the opportunity that students will have in the future to have these dialogues that might be difficult at the time but then allow them to grow in which they are going to be the future leaders of the world,” Nash said.

“Perhaps, as leaders, if they embody the Catholic social teachings of the Benedictine Values they will work to improve the lives of all human beings, all members of the community.”