By Samantha Hilyer
On Aug. 25, President Fr. Paul Taylor, O.S.B. sent an email to the students, faculty and staff of Saint Vincent College with the subject line of “One Bearcat Community.” The correspondence, which was addressed to all “Bearcats,” expressed that bigotry and hatred would not be tolerated within the Saint Vincent community. Taylor ended the email by encouraging community members who may be experiencing the manifestation of bigotry to report any incidences.
The next day, Mary Collins, vice president of student affairs, sent a follow up email titled “Community Expectation and Support” in which she explained the ways reports may be filed about cases of harassment and discrimination. One method is the Campus Safety Concern Reporting Form.
According to Collins, the Campus Safety Concern Reporting Form is a link that was created several years ago which allows students to share their concerns and offers them the option to remain anonymous.
However, Taylor’s “One Bearcat Community” message is meant to both reaffirm the welcoming atmosphere of the college—which relates to the Benedictine Hallmark of hospitality—and is meant to unify the whole community under the title of “bearcat.”
According to Taylor, community membership at SVC “is something that can cross over and connect people who might have differences. Our community has a great sense of diversity across a number of different measures, but we are all bearcats.”
While “One Bearcat Community” is not a specific group or club that can be joined, the title applies to all members of the Saint Vincent community and refers to unity—an especially timely concept, according to Taylor, amid current events.
“Our country is going through some difficult times, especially with regard to race issues,” Taylor said, “and I wanted to affirm people, that if there were any issues, they can bring them to our attention.”
For Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean, the message of “One Bearcat Community” is an obligation for all community members to continue to be inclusive in order to sustain a healthy learning environment for every student on campus.
“I see it as enlivening our mission as a college,” Smetanka said.
Collins shared a viewpoint similar to Smetanka’s.
“This focus has always been part of our Benedictine tradition,” Collins said. “All who are here at Saint Vincent are welcome and supported.”
Collins also echoed Taylor’s wish to reaffirm students and the continuation of building a strong foundation of trust and community at Saint Vincent College.
“We are at our best when we work together as a strong and united campus community,” Collins said.