President Charles Gregory speaks about professors using two racial slurs in class in an interview.
The following is an abbreviated version of an interview last week between The Candor and Benedictine President Charles Gregory about the recent incident of a professor using two racial slurs in class:
“I can’t apologize to the community enough because this is not who we are,” said President Gregory. “To be honest with you, I don’t even know if this is an educational moment, we are an educational institution and if we don’t know what’s happening out there, if we are making someone feel like they don’t belong, we may be of different minds but we are always of one heart. Hopefully, our community stands up and says we will move beyond this. Sorry isn’t enough and they are right, sorry has to be backed up with intentions and actions. Our strength is in our diversity, not in our individualism. Hopefully, this situation taught us, now we will see how good of students we are.”
Jennifer Brown Griffin’s letter to the administration and BSU demand letter.
- “That letter has been shared up and down these halls many times and we highlighted the deep concerns and that’s the one [referring to Jennifer’s letter about not feeling safe] that caught my attention because I cannot imagine sending my child or grandchild, my wife, anyone that I loved and cared about to a place that didn’t make them feel safe, that’s not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination, so that moved up to the top of the list real quick. We will be addressing that when we find out exactly what that means. I want answers.”
- “I applaud her courage, but at the same time, I am very sad. I am sad for us as a university. I am sad for our students here that feel marginalized or offended in any way. That’s not who we are. We keep saying that but these things continue to happen and that frustrates me to no end.
- In regards to Griffin’s letter about Black students not feeling safe on Benedictine Campus, the President explained that that part of the statement bothered him more than anything else: “I don’t know what unsafe means. Does that mean physical? Does someone feel threatened here? And if that’s been going on, then yes, I want to know about that, where, when, and how?”
- In regard to the demand letter presented by Black Student Union or BSU, President Gregory said, “it’s not about looking back, it’s about where do we go from here? We don’t move fast enough to suit me but I still have to move at a pace where we are making improvements and getting better and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Current campus situation
- “What hurts me as President is that this is not the first, I just pray to God it will be the last time. But I am deeply troubled and am sorry for it. I’m sorry to anyone in this community that ever feels like we put them in an uncomfortable spot or made them feel marginalized.”
- “We are an educational institution but it more than in the classroom. Yes, it is about the people who are marginalized, but it’s not about them, it’s about who we are. It’s about what identifies us.”
- “I think we are constantly moving, and I think that we are but we will never move as fast as some of us want to move, it’s not because it’s off our radar or its yesterday’s news, this is not about pacifying, it’s about doing something with meaning and sticking to it.”
How we can improve
- “What are we doing? Obviously, we aren’t doing enough.”
- Aren’t we better than that? Are we really committed to make our community better than that? You can’t do it with words, you can’t do it with special programs, it comes from the heart, that comes from saying “ I refuse to let that happen to any of our own.”
- “I can never write a policy or guarantee that this will never happen again but we will do our dead-level best to make sure that it does not happen again.”
- “The people on the administration here, after Friday’s meeting are all committed to make sure that such instances in the future just don’t happen.”
- “We all have value here. Each one of you students and faculty and staff. These things happen because they are not on the forefront every day, they should be on the forefront of every day that we get up. We address it when something happens, but we need to address it before it happens.”
- “I spent much of my weekend walking the floor with sadness for us because we are better than that. I hope we use every experience we’ve had as a lesson. It’s shame on us.”