Open Letter on School Safety in America

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

We are failing our children, we are failing our communities, and we are failing our nation. Three of the deadliest shootings have occurred in the last five months. How can we stand by helplessly and watch the continuation of such senseless violence? What do we tell our children and our grandchildren about the steps we took to correct the devastating violence in our schools? School safety should be a fundamental right that we provide to our children.

The erosion of a sense of personal safety impacts everyone. We wake to the unimaginable images of the shootings in our classrooms, of children fleeing in terror, of parents and families rushing to the schools in search of their innocent children.

We pray for the families who have been irreparably harmed by the incredulous loss and injury from these senseless school shootings. The impact is magnified so many times over in how it affects our classrooms, our teachers, our children and the learning environment. But our expression of sympathy and outrage is not enough. We must demand action. Enough is enough.

Thomas Merton once said, “Violence is not completely fatal until it ceases to disturb us.”

Day by day, shooting after shooting, we are robbed of our humanity, our compassion and our sense of hope. We must fight the numbing of our emotions, we must hold onto our outrage and move toward action. We cannot accept inaction and the lack of leadership. Our children and our teachers need us to stand up, to speak out, and to call for change. None of our excuses for inaction are providing any assurance that this violence will stop. There is every indication that school violence will continue to increase with our inaction.

Bellarmine University is committed to educating our current and future teachers and administrators who serve us proudly in our schools. We will continue to advocate and support students and teachers pursuing this noble profession but we must demand action from our president, our congressional leaders, our governor and other elected officials. Please provide the leadership we need to educate our children in safe and thriving schools, free of fear from senseless violence. Our children represent our future, they give us hope, they deserve so much more than we are providing. Our children deserve their fundamental rights.

Please join Campus Ministry and members of the campus community tonight at 9:30 p.m. outside Our Lady of the Woods Chapel to pray for the 17 lives lost in yesterday's horrific mass shooting in Florida. Candles will be provided.

Sincerely, Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D.