President Carey speaks on Black Lives Matter

Stacey Franciamore, Editor-in-Chief

Iona College President Seamus Carey, Ph.D., sent a message to students addressing the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter on June 4.    

The message showed support for the Black community, encouraged students to fight against systemic racism, injustice and violence and emphasized that actions were being taken to fight for racial justice and equality.  

The Ionian’s Stacey Franciamore interviewed President Carey to discuss how he is remaining engaged, responsive and taking the time to learn and listen.  

This interview was conducted via email and has been edited for space and clarity.  


SF: The email sent out to the Iona community over the summer after the murder of George Floyd mentioned that a meeting with student leaders from SLAM and SGA was conducted to address concerns and gain feedback to incorporate into the school’s response to issues of racism and inequality. After meeting with these student leaders, what conclusions were made from the meeting and what commitments to action were taken as a result?  

SC: Hearing from student leaders was an important part of gaining deeper insights into the environment at Iona. No conclusions were reached at the end of those meetings. They were meetings to understand what students were thinking and experiencing. I wanted to learn about their Iona experience. The commitment we all need to make is to live up to the Iona mission to respect every member of our community and, at this point in history, that requires special attention to anti-racism.  


SF: Student leaders act as role models and play an essential part in enacting the school’s vision and values. In what other ways is the administration working with student leaders across campus to address these issues and keep them engaged?  

SC: One of the central points of focus for SGA this year is diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. We will partner with SGA to support student-led initiatives that address these issues. We will maintain an open dialogue with students to hear their ideas to address any shortcomings that exist at Iona around these issues.  


SF: How does the administration plan to help further educate students on the pandemic of racism and ensure the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t fade? 

SC: Conversations with students and faculty are ongoing and will continue. Faculty are adjusting the curriculum to incorporate anti-racism material into their courses. We have posted the position for a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). The search committee for that position has been formed and it includes a student. We will support the work of the CDO across campus.   


SF: How can we uplift the voices of Black students?  

SC: Listen to their experience. Celebrate their accomplishments. Honor and study the contributions of African American men and women who have shaped our country. And call out racist behavior whenever we encounter it.  


SF: How do you help ensure that the social, political and racial turmoil present in the country is not causing internal struggles within our community? 

SC: We provide the framework for open communication and dialogue and try to live up to the legacy of the Christian Brothers, a religious order that was founded to educate those who were marginalized from their society. Faculty are working on integrating antiracism into the curriculum so that all students gain awareness of the powerful people and voices from the African American community who have played a central role in the evolution of this country.  


SF: How have your ideas on race on campus evolved and what kinds of things have raised your awareness 

SC: Though multiple conversations with minority faculty and students and alumni, I have learned where our shortcomings are and how we can respond to turn them into strengths.