Loyola University Maryland

The Office of Academic Affairs

Responding as Faculty to Baltimore unrest and injustice

More on responding as a faculty member

"A Mission Moment" -- Letter to My Students

Prof. Brianne Roos, Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology, composed evening of April 28, 2015


I'm sitting here tonight watching the news and hoping for a peaceful night in Baltimore.  Much of today was spent managing the logistics of classes and exams, trying to prioritize your safety and still meet class requirements, and shaking my head at the circumstances that demanded our collective immediate attention.  I expected to be relieved once decisions were made regarding classes, but even at 2:00 when the university was closed, I did not feel a sense of resolution.

This afternoon, the faculty received an email from the VP for Academic Affairs, Dr. Amy Wolfson.  She encouraged us to work through the logistical issues, but more than that, she challenged us to focus on the current situation as a "mission moment."  Thinking about the situation downtown from a teaching perspective has helped me to process the events and how they relate to me, and hopefully to you as well.

As students studying speech-language pathology, you are emerging experts on communication.  We teach the fundamental definition of communication as "the sending and receiving of a mutually understood message."  As Loyola students, you are part of an Ignatian system of education in which you are called to always consider the "whole person" and to consistently balance action and reflection in your lives.

Consider reflecting on the communication that we are seeing through the demonstrations, both peaceful and violent.  What are the messages being sent by the protestors?  By the police?  By the government?  Are the respective messages mutually understood?  Although the events are complicated, deep-rooted and almost incomprehensible, at their core it seems like our simple definition of effective communication is quite relevant.

After reflection, we are called to action.  How can we be more tolerant in our daily lives?  How can we practice what we are teaching and learning, and are we actually listening to others and trying to find the mutually understood message?  Perhaps taking actions like those in our own lives and relationships is a concrete way to address the problem that is magnified in Baltimore this week.

Finally, St. Ignatius demands that we pay attention as we go through our lives.  Especially at this time of the semester, it's easy to put our heads down with a "just make it through" mentality.  I know the events in the city this week forced me to snap out of that mindset and into action, and ultimately reflection.  If we are going to embrace the cura personalis or "care for the whole person" message, we have to pay attention to our fellow people and embrace this mission moment.

Please take care and be safe,

Prof Roos