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.