Augustana University Statement Concerning Racial Injustice and Recent Events

As a Christian institution, we believe our faith compels us to speak out against violence, injustice and oppression.

In addition to a global pandemic, the first half of 2020 has seen yet another spate of senseless and tragic deaths of unarmed black men and women in different communities across our country.  Four months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, and, just last week, in our neighboring state of Minnesota, George Floyd, after repeatedly telling police he couldn’t breathe, died lying face down and handcuffed in the street.

Augustana University acknowledges the pain and anguish of the Black community when such heart-wrenching racial and social injustices occur and reoccur.  The videos of these events are so very difficult to watch and result in varying degrees of trauma for all of us.  We cannot allow ourselves to become desensitized to these horrific events.  While difficult, we must have the important conversations about these events and systemic racism with our children, our friends, our colleagues and others in our community. 

At Augustana, students enter to learn and leave to serve. To serve the neighbor.  In a diverse world.  Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were our neighbors, made in the image of God.  We grieve their deaths.  And we extend our love and prayers to their families, and to our colleagues, students and friends who are people of color—who experience the pain, anger and sorrow of these tragic events far more deeply because of shared lived experiences that all of us must try to understand and respect more deeply.

On behalf of Augustana University, we reaffirm our campus and community commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and to social justice.  This commitment is reflective of our Core Values and our common institutional calling with other ELCA colleges and universities to educate students who are called and empowered to serve the neighbor so all may flourish.  We are a dedicated partner with those who seek to mobilize our broader community in support of meaningful actions that work to end systemic racism. 

We are called to come alongside all who suffer. May God’s love inspire action that helps mend these wounds and lifts up those around us.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin