Statement on Racial Justice and the Murder of George Floyd

Author: Aaron Benavides

Statement On Racial Justice Insta

In response to the murder of George Floyd, we have released the statement below. Members of the Notre Dame community can sign onto the statement here. A full list of signatories can be viewed here.

In recent times, we have been painfully reminded of the injustices that exist in our world. From devastating incidents such as the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others, it is clear that there remains a fundamental racial injustice in our society. 

The sin of racism pervades our country and our campus. Injustices in our culture, institutions, and structures of society divide us. These are not partisan issues, but matters that concern every member of humanity. This is an issue of life. 

We grieve for those whose lives were unjustly cut short due to police brutality and racism and the communities that mourn their loss, and we demand justice. We condemn the discriminatory and abhorrent actions of police against these Black citizens. We acknowledge that these acts are not isolated incidents, and we believe that we must unite to fight against such injustices. 

In the fight against injustice and white supremacist attacks against the Black community, thousands are taking to the streets proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” from Minneapolis to Louisville, from Sandy Springs to Tallahassee. They do so fueled by righteous anger and in pursuit of a full share in life, liberty, and happiness. Now and always we must stand in solidarity with those crying out for justice. We are inspired by the protestors and journalists who have been speaking truth to power in the face of police brutality, and we lift up the moments of compassion in the midst of chaos, seen especially in Minneapolis. May the intercession of St. Óscar Romero keep all those who hunger for justice safe in their struggle.

In its mission statement, the University of Notre Dame asserts, “[Our] aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.” Over the course of our Notre Dame education, these core tenets of Catholic Social Teaching have been inculcated within us, and we must now transform our learning into service to justice. In order to live up to our calling to be a force for good in our world, we must reflect on what we as a university and as individuals can do to advocate for human dignity. 

We first acknowledge that the Notre Dame community is not immune to these acts of racism, and we must not fail to call out the individuals that discriminate against and degrade members of our family. Demonstrations of hate have no place on our campus or in our world, and we all have an obligation to do better. 

Statement On Racial Justice Insta

Our university can do better. The statement released by the University of Notre Dame on racial justice was a disappointment to many students, faculty, staff, and alumni who, frankly, expected more from our beloved university. Rather than simply looking back to 1964 when Father Ted stood hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should be looking ahead to the ways we can contribute to the fight against racism in the present, to fight for justice and peace. We urge university officials to proactively engage in more advocacy work to reassure our Black community members that, as an institution, we are still fighting on their side just as passionately as we once did in the past. We must amplify the voices of Black students in the present. 

To the Black Notre Dame community and the Black community at large: we see you, we hear you, and we support you.

This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue. As a university, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to Catholic Social Tradition and stand in solidarity with those most vulnerable, in particular the Black community. The road to healing after centuries of oppression is long, yet we must persist. Everyone has a role to play in this process of healing. From Campus Ministry to the Notre Dame Police Department, we are tasked with rebuilding the bonds of trust that have been strained and broken, and we urge the University to support future initiatives for collaboration and conversation on issues regarding race and justice.

As a student body, we must all actively join together to help combat systems of oppression for minority groups. It is well within our responsibilities to support and advocate for our peers when systems have continuously failed them. If we choose to remain silent and complicit in this ongoing battle against racism, we choose to side with these oppressive forces.

As a Catholic university, we must acknowledge that thoughts and prayers and action are not mutually exclusive. We appreciate the University’s effort to stand in solidarity with the Black community with the Prayer for Unity, Walk for Justice prayer service, and we encourage students to participate in this event. However, beyond prayer, we have an obligation to take concrete steps toward equality. 

These steps may look different for each individual. Due to safety concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is understandable that not everyone can physically participate in the protests occurring across the nation. With that being said, we want to call attention to the multitude of other ways to make an impactful contribution, including, but not limited to: signing petitions, donating to organizations that uplift the Black community, calling representatives and lawmakers, and self-education. This Black Lives Matter resource page serves as a directory to all the ways that you can help nationwide.  

It is paramount to recognize that the local South Bend community is not unaffected by this issue. This week, the Black Lives Matter South Bend chapter is hosting a series of virtual and in person events for their Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Members of the South Bend community work to support and maintain the University of Notre Dame every day; therefore, it is important to recognize their struggles and support their movement. 

As a university and as a country, we are grieving for the lives lost at the hands of police brutality. We encourage everyone to seek out mental health resources offered by McDonald Center for Student Well-Being and the University Counseling Center

Upon founding the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., declared, “This college will be one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country.” If we truly desire to live out this vision, it is vital that our undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and staff members stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Kaya Lawrence
Student Government Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Shades of Ebony President 

Rachel Ingal
Student Body President

Sarah Galbenski
Student Body Vice President

Aaron Benavides
Student Government Chief of Staff

Cassidy Ferrell
Student Government Department of Diversity and Inclusion, Member

MyKayla Geary
Diversity Council, Director of Public Relations

Ashley Lizana
Student Government Department of Diversity and Inclusion, Member

Amaya Medeiros
Diversity Council, Parliamentarian 

Renee Pierson
Class of 2023 President

Matthew Bisner
Judicial Council President
PrismND Co-Vice President


Members of the Notre Dame community can sign onto this statement here.

To view the full list of signatories, click here.

Jeff Musema
Wabruda President

N'Kaela Webster
Black Student Association President

Brandon Hardy
Class of 2020

MacKenzie Isaac
Former Student Government Director of Diversity and Inclusion (2019-2020)

Kaleem Minor
Former Student Government Director of Diversity and Inclusion (2017-2018)

Mita Ramani
Former Student Government Director of Diversity and Inclusion (2018-2019)

Sam Cannova
Class of 2021 President

Julia Dillhoff
Hall Presidents Council Co-Chair

Ian Baker
Student Government Co-Director of Student Life

Grace Dean
Student Government Director of Health and Well-Being

Izzy Edgar
Student Government Co-Director of Student Life

Tommy Han
Student Government Director of Community Engagement and Outreach

Abu Mian
Student Government Director of Social Concerns

Mike Prieto
Student Government Director of Campus Technology and Innovation

Lauryn Pugh
Student Government Director of Academic Affairs

Katherine Relick
Student Union Secretary

Chris Russo
Student Government Press Secretary and Director of Communications

Meilin Scanish
Student Government Director of Student Empowerment

Fritz Schemel
Student Government Co-Director of FUEL

Riya Shah
Student Government Director of National Engagement

Meredith Wilson
Student Government Director of Gender Relations

Abby Wolfe
Student Government Director of University Policy