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-- Statement from Hilbert College Criminal Justice Studies Division & the Hilbert College Institute for Law and Justice --
The recent events in our country have been horrific and, unfortunately, polarizing. We share the nation’s outrage at the murder of George Floyd and agree that officers who commit acts of violence against citizens must be held accountable. Communities of color are grieving and too many are afraid of those sworn to protect them; this fact needs to be acknowledged.
We formally endorse the college’s statement in support of ending racial prejudice. We particularly applaud its commitment to our mission of education to serve our diverse community.
Hilbert College has been preparing graduates to enter careers in criminal justice since 1971, and we are extremely proud of and support those graduates who have served their communities with distinction in ways that demonstrate our Franciscan heritage and values. We acknowledge these honorable careers in law enforcement and support the front-line heroes, many of whom, as a recent example, have sacrificed their health during this COVID-19 Pandemic. Each year far too many officers die in the line of duty, while others jeopardize their safety each day in service to the greater good—and this too needs to be acknowledged.
As part of our Franciscan mission, our faculty work to ensure that our graduates serve their communities with dignity and respect. This mission depends on relationships and the built-in faith in each other’s good will. With this in mind, we seek to ensure that those we teach will help heal the wounds that are so ingrained in our culture.
The effects of our nation’s history of racism are far more widespread than any individual officer’s actions. Law enforcement alone cannot heal systemic wounds. Still, we recognize that we have a role to play in reforming systems to prevent violence against our communities, especially against people of color who have disproportionately suffered.
If there was ever a time to act, it is now. We commit to acting.
Now is a time for introspection of those leaders in criminal justice. As leaders, we must speak out and work to right wrongs in the system and culture. This cannot be done overnight; decades/centuries of wrongs will take time to correct, but we must start today. We acknowledge that which divides us can provide the impetus for necessary change, and we welcome the challenge to find ways to reform for a better future for all. We cannot do this based on emotion and divide, but based on dialogue, unity, evidence, and facts, within the confines of scientific inquiry.
The Hilbert College Division of Criminal Justice Studies has historically prided itself on the education of the whole student as individuals from diverse backgrounds, stressing ethical decision-making, principled behavior, and the importance of life-long learning. As an academic institution, we invite growth and continually seek new ways to improve our practices as we witness the effects of past policies. In recent years, our curriculum has been strengthened to foster greater social awareness and understanding of diversity and the human condition, which we consider fundamental to the education of our students. We will continuously work to improve our pedagogy to meet the current systemic and policing challenges engendered by our historical realities.
The CJ Division—at both the undergraduate and graduate levels—encourages and recommits to life-long learning by objectively reevaluating our own perspectives. Our faculty have varied practical and theoretical/research-based backgrounds in local, state and federal public service and private industry. As such, the lived experiences of each faculty member is differently informed, and contributes to the education of our students. Our faculty will not turn a blind eye and gloss over the issues of injustice; they will be discussed head on in the classroom with fairness and inclusion.
Embracing the importance of life-long learning, Hilbert’s Institute for Law & Justice has served to provide further training and education to Hilbert alums and their law enforcement colleagues. Our Institute will continue to work to provide trainings for law enforcement, as it is evident more trainings and community collaborations are necessary. We offer these opportunities to those in the public safety field because we know our society needs a well-trained, disciplined and empirically informed police force to serve and protect every human being equally.
We commit to reinvigorated teaching in the human condition and, in conjunction with our colleagues, we will ensure that our students learn not only the science of criminal justice, but also the sociological and psychological underpinnings of civil unrest. We commit to adding events on campus for our students this coming year and going forward, that will provide a venue for discussion on the ever-changing current events, by challenging our students to think critically about problems and seek positive change. We are further committed to reinvigorating and continuing our support of law enforcement and building of community collaborations that lead to a system of justice that serves all Americans equally.
The Criminal Justice Studies Division
The Institute for Law & Justice
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