Dear Members of the University Community,
Last evening, while attending a meeting of Jesuit university presidents in Chicago, I was deeply saddened to learn of the offensive graffiti found in Casa Italiana. I asked Jeanne Rosenberger, Vice Provost for Student Life, to communicate immediately to the University this administration's deep concern for such shameful actions. The investigation will proceed in the Office of Student Life and disciplinary action will be taken.
These two acts of vandalism come only one week after the damage inflicted on the display outside St. Joseph's Hall that commemorated the 43 missing Mexican students. As I wrote to the campus community in the October 6th issue of The Santa Clara, such actions violate our value of solidarity with all persons, based on our shared humanity, and, I should add, as children of a loving God.
The scrawl of a swastika in a residence hall reminds me of the terror of that symbol I have heard expressed by survivors of the Holocaust. When I taught history, I invited Holocaust survivors to speak in my classes, and I can still hear the voice of Anna Fisher describe the Nazis breaking into her home and dragging away her father and brother, never to be seen again. The swastika is a powerful symbol of hate, one that cannot be ignored, particularly during these days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The anti-gay slurs elsewhere in Casa Italiana have a unique painfulness because they appeared in this month celebrating our LGBTQ community.
I believe that Santa Clara students have finer values and deeper respect than what has been scribbled in this residence hall. I encourage you not to stand idly by and ignore what has happened, but to discuss openly why such attacks of hatred are reprehensible. I know that you will not allow the individual or individuals who have defaced our facilities and shamed our school to think that we at Santa Clara will tolerate such actions.
While the administration continues its investigation of the matter, I ask that we all reflect on how we respect one another and manifest our solidarity as a community. We have a proud tradition of Jesuit values at Santa Clara, and these ideals must inspire our work to support and understand one another, no matter what our differences.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.