President Harris On Charlottesville

cross at USD


Dear Campus Community,

Over the past week I, like so many people in our country, have been deeply disturbed, dismayed and saddened by the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a university community committed to respecting the dignity and humanity of all people, we are compelled to soundly and unequivocally denounce the hatred and racism that provoked the violence.

Our morality, our spirituality and our faith calls us to immediate action. First, we are called to pray for those who lost their lives and the families who mourn them. Secondly, as a university community dedicated to confronting humanity’s urgent challenges, we must condemn these acts of hatred and stand by the values upon which we were founded. Finally, we must follow the teachings of the Gospel and pray for those with hatred in their hearts so that they may know peace.

People and organizations that actively promote white supremacism, foster hatred and provoke violence against others are an anathema to the values of our country and all that our university community represents to the world. As an engaged, contemporary Catholic university, we aspire to become the living embodiment of our mission by embracing civility, inclusiveness, equity, and solidarity and to fearlessly stand up to evil wherever and in whatever form it appears.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and spending an evening with Elie Wiesel, the author, professor, holocaust survivor, political activist and Nobel Peace Laureate. His message that night was one of atonement, peace and action. One of his quotes has stuck with me over the years and is particularly relevant today. “There may be times when we feel powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

As an academic community, we should peacefully resist the hatred and senseless violence that was on display this past weekend in Charlottesville and remain steadfast to our ongoing legacy—that we persist in our commitment to confronting the sin of racism and empowering our students to be leaders who are never silent when an injustice occurs in society.


James T. Harris III, DEd



This communication was sent to the USD community on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

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