Brescia University President the Rev. Larry Hostetter took to social media earlier this week to make a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and against systemic racism.
Hostetter, who was responding to negative feedback received after the university posted “Black Lives Matter” across its marquee at the front of the school on Frederica Street, said Brescia has always been in support of greater racial justice since its foundation.
“Back in the 1960s, we had a group of students that chartered a bus and went to Alabama to march with the Civil Rights Movement, so this is not unusual for us,” Hostetter said.
So, when the opportunity arose for him to take a public stance on the issue, he knew it was important to do so because “it was clear that the wound of racism is as deep and pervasive as ever and we need to let the community know where we stand.”
In early June, Hostetter also penned an open letter to the students of Brescia that pinpoints the characteristics of the school’s mission “Respect for the Sacred.”
In the letter Hostetter also wrote that “every human person is wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God, never to be repeated.”
He went on to say that he, and other Brescia officials, “categorically denounce” the murders of Black citizens.
“As a community, we are outraged and deeply saddened not only by these senseless deaths, but also by those whose names are known only to their family and friends,” Hostetter wrote.
He also outlined some ideas that will be implemented in the upcoming school year, including expanding its diversity and inclusion task force and for senior leadership to participate in diversity training.
Brescia will also be providing additional training opportunities for staff on topics of diversity and systemic racism; review relevant university policies for structural bias; and explore the creation of a Bias Response Team.
Hostetter said on Thursday that so far the responses to his public announcements have been “overwhelming positive.”
“There is an organization called Black Lives Matter Global Network, and I think primarily people were concerned that Brescia was supporting that organization,” he said. “We are supporting the simple fact that Black lives matter.”
He said it “absolutely” is the right thing to stand up and be allies with those who are most affected by racism.
“We need to listen to their experience and hopefully learn something from it and make changes,” he said. “We are all affected by it, we are all complicit in some way. I think it’s important that we take that anti-racist position.”
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315