Guest Opinion: Creating inclusive and equitable communities
Winona Daily News
Rev. James Patrick Burns, IVD, PhD, ABPP, president of Saint Mary’s University
Larry Lundblad, interim president of Minnesota State College Southeast
Scott R. Olson, president of Winona State University
As Winona’s higher education leaders, we are distressed and upset by the killing of Mr. George Floyd. Though Minneapolis is 100 miles away from Winona, the events there are having an effect worldwide, and will affect us here. Because it is summer, and because our students are elsewhere, the effect may be somewhat delayed. This gives us time as a community to reflect on how we can be more welcoming and inclusive. Our institutions must play a role in making the world and our local community better, and we will.
To that end, we reject and condemn harassment, wrongful discrimination, disrespect, racist acts, and all forms of hatred, especially those leading to destruction of life. We support the right of peaceful protest – the right of the people peaceably to assemble – as guaranteed in the First Amendment. We are reflecting upon and reviewing how our institutions could have done better in combatting systemic injustice and unfair class systems that enable racist behaviors, and we invite all institutions in the community to do the same. Happily, we have superb resources here in Winona thanks to Project FINE, our religious institutions, and our own faculties to help in this work.
We will seek to create inclusive and equitable communities on and off campus. To that end, we ask our fellow Winonans to work with us and join in efforts that build and support a world in which all are afforded full human dignity. As universities dedicated to intellectual excellence, we recognize the essential contribution of our diverse communities and how they all help us advance an atmosphere of respect.
Please join us in this work. Please reflect on the ways that Winona can be more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive. Please share with us your ideas about how we can do better. Please take the steps you can to ensure that racism has no place in our beautiful town.