Photo Courtesy of Franciscan Action Network
By Jessica Fetrow
Several members of the Catholic University community have stepped forward to express their support of the Black Lives Matter movement efforts on campus amid ongoing nationwide racial tension following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25.
Several student organizations have announced their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly the university’s recognized Black Student Alliance (BSA) chapter, which has also provided The Tower with a compilation of resources directed towards educating individuals on the movement. The BSA also hopes that the university will take additional steps to accommodate Black students on campus, as well as the Brookland neighborhood as a whole.
“Black Student Alliance hopes that Catholic University will not only take the appropriate steps to accommodate its students, both undergraduate and graduate alike, but also that the university notices the effects that it has on Brookland, a predominantly Black community, and D.C. as a whole,” said the BSA in a statement to The Tower. “Black lives, though disproportionally outnumbered, are present here on Catholic’s campus. [Catholic University] prides itself on being an all-inclusive campus; however, to be an all-inclusive campus one cannot just see everyone they encounter as all the same because we are not, we are not all the same.”
The university’s BSA chapter also expressed its hope that the university will consider canceling events conflicting with the March on Washington scheduled for August 28, 2020.
“Everyone, of all races, beliefs, and backgrounds, as human beings have an obligation to advocate for one another and protect each other’s well being,” BSA said. “Brookland is the home of Catholic University; yet, Brookland, apart from the university, is hurting in so many ways. Catholic University must take a moment to reflect on how they are contributing to these problems and how they can do more to fix them.”
In addition to BSA, an Instagram account by the handle of @blackatcua, which is not affiliated with any active student organization at Catholic University, was created on June 24 by Catholic University alumni from class years 2012 through 2015. The account accumulated nearly 600 followers within the first 24 hours of its creation and has over 1,000 followers as of June 28. The account has posted several anonymous submissions from students and alumni recounting their experiences as people of color at Catholic University which involve several university organizations and includes references to an incident in Flather Hall in October 2017.
“The purpose of this account is to cultivate a safe and anonymous space to amplify the voices and narratives of people of color who are part of the [Catholic University] community,” said the account in a post on June 25. “It is also our hope that these very real narratives provide enough pressure on the university’s leadership to not only condemn, but address racist incidents on campus quickly, fairly, and in the best interests of all those involved.”
The post also stated that the account believes that “everyone has the potential to grow and learn from their mistakes.”
“This is NOT a space to shame, punish, or tear anyone down, but rather to encourage them to learn by providing them with insight through personal testimony from people of color who are willing to share them,” said the account.
Both Catholic University’s College Democrats and College Republicans have responded to the Black Lives Matter movement as well.
“In this time of great injustice, we know and are united behind the fact that silence is violence,” said Catholic University’s College Democrats chapter in an Instagram post. “We refuse to be bystanders in acts of hatred, tribulation, and racial injustice. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Black students and community members of CUA.”
“As Republicans and students of the Catholic University of America, we are uniquely tasked with reaffirming the inherent dignity of human life,” said Catholic University’s College Republicans chapter in an Instagram post. “Every man, woman, & child is made in the image of God, and any life lost is a tragedy.”
Both Catholic University President John Garvey and University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry Rev. Fr. Jude DeAngelo also issued statements condemning racial violence while reflecting on the death of Floyd and subsequent protests.
“Our Church teaches that ‘[e]very form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design,’” Garvey said.