Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
We marked the end of a particularly divisive election season with an outcome that brought forward a range of emotions, from relief and elation to fear and concern, throughout our community. The rhetoric and divisive tone of this election have exposed many of the challenges that face our communities and our nation. We must remain committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive environment where all individuals are valued and respected, and ideas are openly debated.
Over the last day, many of us have spoken with students and colleagues about the fear they feel for the safety of their families and friends. In my own conversation with one of our fine first-generation students, it became clear how the invective expressed during the campaign has led many like him on our campus to worry about the future and their sense of inclusion. They wonder if they belong at Santa Clara and in this country, and if so, how will they be treated. I know many of you have encountered students in shock and dismay. The impact has been so profound and widespread that yesterday the Division of Student Life facilitated various opportunities to reflect, process, and engage in open, honest dialogue.
Because we are an educational institution, I urge you to join me in supporting more of these opportunities for dialogue. I encourage you to initiate or participate in such conversations and express the strong values we hold as a Jesuit university, ideals that include solidarity with the most vulnerable in society, respect for differences, justice, fairness, and compassion. As a faith-based university, let us also draw upon our diverse spiritual and religious traditions to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion of all God’s people, particularly here at Santa Clara.
We often speak of this university not as a community, but as a family, and so many of our alumni testify to this strong sense of belonging. A family, as you know, rallies when one or more members face trauma or threat, exclusion or hostility. Through such activities, we will move closer to realizing the benefits of democracy in a society where we believe all persons are created equal. Now is the time for us to recommit ourselves to these beliefs and do all we can to assure that every person, particularly among our students, is welcomed and respected in this place, our Santa Clara family.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.