Faculty Statement on Antiracism

Political Science Department Faculty Statement

June 5, 2020

To CSB/SJU Political Science students and recent graduates:

Our department does not usually make statements on current public issues. But as teachers, political scientists, and citizens we believe it is our duty to speak out about the lethal act of brutality by four Minneapolis police officers on May 25 that caused the death of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed black man, and the cascade of events this violent act set in motion.

We believe this is especially urgent because so many of our students and recent graduates, including those who live in the Twin Cities, may be feeling confused, frustrated, and frightened at the present time. Many of our students of color fear that what happened to George Floyd could also happen to them. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions of these four police officers, one of whom has now been charged with second degree murder and three with being accessories. But this event did not occur in a vacuum. The killing of George Floyd has produced mass peaceful demonstrations across the United States and elsewhere in the world, as well as some destructive acts of rage, in response to injustices that have gone unremedied for too long.

As political scientists we call for fundamental reform of the institutional structures and practices, here in Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States, that have too long enabled police officers to engage in the kind of misconduct that was inflicted on George Floyd without serious consequences or public accountability. It is our responsibility as teachers to recognize, and to help our students and the wider public understand, that black people and members of minority groups are especially vulnerable to racial profiling and abuse of power by law enforcement.

It is also our duty as teachers to ensure that our own educational institutions, the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, create a just and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and support staff of all backgrounds. As political scientists at liberal arts institutions we study, write, and teach about political institutions and political behavior. For this reason, we believe as a department we have an obligation to help students and citizens understand the causes and context of our current turbulent situation. You too, who have learned and reflected about politics in our courses, can help others understand what is going on and why, and how to change our political and social world for the better.

Finally, we want to assure you that we are here for you in this troubled time if you need us, and we will help in whatever way we can. We also encourage all of you to be available to help one another. To those of you who are current students, we look forward to seeing you back on campus in the fall.

To all of you: please stay safe, stay engaged with public events, and stay in touch.

James Read, Chair
Phil Kronebusch
Scott Johnson
Claire Haeg
Matt Lindstrom
Christi Siver
Whitney Court
Pedro dos Santos
Colin Hannigan

CSB/SJU Faculty statement about the killing of George Floyd

July 1, 2020

At its meeting on June 16, 2020, the Joint Faculty Senate endorsed the following statement on the killing of George Floyd.

Furthermore, the Senate recognized that there are already many important efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus. The Senate charged the committee on Inclusion, Equity, and Justice to collaborate with other offices and efforts already underway on campus to help the faculty accomplish the action items within the statement. 

The Joint Faculty Senate endorses the following statement:

The faculty of CSB/SJU unite in solidarity with the global condemnation of the murder of George Floyd and of so many other Black people, as well as members of marginalized groups. Sadly, these events are not new; White people have perpetrated violence against Black people since the origins of the United States and the slave trade, Reconstruction after the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The image of a policeman’s knee on the neck of a Black man is a symbol of the systemic racism, White supremacy, and structural violence that marginalized peoples have had to endure in the U.S.A. for far too long. Any society that regularly abuses its members by lynchings of various sorts, by discriminatory practices that condemn marginalized groups to subservient roles and inferior living conditions, and that – decade after decade, in spite of protests – empowers its police forces to maintain this system of oppression, even to the point of murdering a man in public – does not deserve the dignity of being called “the home of the free.”

This statement, however, is not simply another statement of condemnation of police violence. The murder of George Floyd has become a catalyst for massive protests around the world because there is videotape exposing the horror of police brutality, but such violence is endemic within our society at large – police have been able to get away with this brutality for so long because White people and power structures have condoned it by silence and inaction. Rather than simply condemning the murder of George Floyd, therefore, we wish this statement to be seen as a statement of intent and commitment.  We – a faculty of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities – pledge ourselves, therefore, in the coming months, years and beyond to the following:

Foundational Principles
Faculty Commitments
In Solidarity with Students
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Dr. Whitney Court
Chair, Political Science Department
SJU Simons 146