University of San Diego

Dear USD Campus Community:

In the past week, our country has experienced horrific acts of hatred and violence that seek to divide our country and threaten the very fabric of our nation. We are all aware of the two hate crimes perpetrated last week in Jeffersontown, KY, and Pittsburgh, PA. The first attack targeted members of a predominantly black church, and two innocent people were later murdered in a supermarket. In the second attack, a Jewish Synagogue was targeted, and eleven innocent people were killed while they worshiped in peace.

According to the FBI, hate crimes were up in the United States in 2017 with an increase in incidents motivated by bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBTQ+ people, among others. The Anti-Defamation League reported earlier this year that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. reached the highest level in two decades and was the largest year-to-year increase since the group began collecting data in 1979.

In the book of Proverbs, we learn that “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love cures all wrongs.” There is no doubt in my mind that the attacks of last week were meant to stir up conflict and sow fear and hatred among us. As members of an engaged, contemporary Catholic university community, we cannot sit idly by while hatred spreads.

It is natural to feel a broad range of emotions at this moment. It is also important to channel our energies into action that can bring about positive change. We can begin by reaching out to those who are feeling threatened--especially members of our black and Jewish communities--and let them know that they are loved. We can also take loving action by gathering for prayer and reflection. Finally, we can exercise our right as citizens and vote next week to ensure our voices are heard.

USD offers a number of services for members of our community seeking support. Students can visit the Counseling Center located in Serra Hall 300. Additional support information can be found on the Counseling Center's website or by calling (619) 260-4655. The University Ministry team is also available to talk with students who are grieving or otherwise would like to process these events; they can be reached by calling (619) 260-4735 or via email at USD employees can access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for support services.

Our campus' chapter of Hillel has invited all members of the community to join them at a "Standing Together Against Hate" community vigil that will be held this evening at Beth Israel Synagogue in La Jolla at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, this week's Mass for Peace on Wednesday evening in Founders Chapel will be dedicated to remembering the victims of these hate crimes.

These events, during a time when hate becomes more manifest in our culture, call us together in community at USD, where our Catholic mission invites all to struggle for justice and love in the world.


James T. Harris III, D.Ed.

University of San Diego

Office of the President
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492