September 30, 2020 |At this year’s Mass of the Holy Spirit—the ceremonial opening to the academic year at Jesuit universities—Rev. Nelson Pierce, Jr. exhorted us to listen. Not least, he reminded us, we should listen to those “speaking in the multiple languages of protest.”
Last week we listened. Our students led hundreds around the space we share. Pausing at the Scales of Justice (pictured) and at the campus police station, our Black students spoke especially clearly. They cried out in rage against racial injustice, including injustices they experience on our own campus.
Some of their words were hard to hear. We are not doing enough to fight racism and promote justice, including at our own university. I am not doing enough. I am listening.
I find myself in a season of listening. Sure, I’m also still working. And I know well that listening cannot take the place of action. But this year I’m carving out more time simply to listen.
That includes listening to you. With the counsel of CASCA, I’ve been putting together a plan to do so effectively.
One element of that plan is already clear: listening sessions with each academic department, and also at least one with college staff members. These will replace this year’s (usually less frequent) Constituency Team meetings. In my fifth year as dean, it seems fitting to repeat this practice now.
Many of these listening sessions have already been scheduled, and the first two have already occurred. Thanks to you who have made time to participate, and to all those who will.
I look forward to listening to you.