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Prayers—and Action—for Buffalo and Laguna Woods

Protest with sign that says Stand Against Hate

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

The entire Georgian Court University community stands in prayer and solidarity with the city of Buffalo, New York, and with the families of Celeste Chaney, Roberta Drury, Andre Macknell, Katherine Massey, Margus Morrison, Heyward Patterson, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Ruth Whitfield, and Pearl Young, who were murdered during the massacre at Tops Family Market on Saturday. The assailant, 18-year-old Peyton Gandron, a self-described “fascist, a White supremacist and an anti-Semite,” was arrested; his act will be charged as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.

Less than 24 hours later, another senseless shooting occurred at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California—whose congregants are largely Taiwanese. One man lost his life, and four others were injured when the gunman opened fire during their worship service.

Saturday’s massacre and Sunday’s shooting remind us that our world can be unfair and unjust at times. Racism is a detestable system and we, as a collective, must work diligently to dismantle it—and that increase of gun violence robs innocent people of their lives and futures every day. Further, as a Mercy family, we are reminded that it is our responsibility to actively address any prejudice, discrimination, or racism that occurs in our spheres of influence. Through intentional dialogue, listening to the experiences of others, and “calling out” hate, we can contribute to the healing and growth within our communities.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. We also pray for mental wellness and recovery of the three people who survived the shootings.

The Office of Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Campus Ministries are all open for those who want to speak about this weekend’s tragedies.


Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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