Campus reaction: Bishop Loras statue

By Anna Bruxvoort (TheLorian)

President Collin’s mentioned Bishop Loras’,the founder of Loras College, past as a slave owner, and made the decision to remove the statue from its podium in an announcement to the Loras community on Sept. 8. President Jim Collins wrote in a letter to the campus community that the statue of Bishop Loras will be placed in storage “until we have convened as a community to discuss the impact of this knowledge about our founder and, specifically, whether and in what context the statue could or should be displayed in the future.”

Following the news about Bishop Loras, three members of our Loras community have volunteered to share their thoughts and opinions about the removal of Bishop Loras.

Does Bishop Loras’ past change your views about Loras College?

Current first year: Not really, because he was in fact the founder, but Loras as a college and a community has evolved so much since he has founded it.”

Professor Merkel: No, not about the college. About Bishop Loras, it has. I haven’t processed it fully, but the fact that he used another person in this way is so inexcusable that it is currently difficult to remember the good stuff. The bishop was our founder, and we do have his name, but who we are as a college as very little to do with the man Bishop Loras was. Our college is really based on the God he served.”

Alumni: “It doesn’t change my view of the school at all. Bishop Loras is a man who lived generations ago. What Loras has done since has no connection to him at all in my mind.”

If you were not apart of the Loras community would you view this statue indifferently?

Current first year: I don’t really associate Loras with the statue in the first place, so if I didn’t go here, I probably wouldn’t even know there was a statue.”

Professor Merkel: I don’t think so. I would still agree with removing it. Most likely I wouldn’t feel as heartbroken about why it is being taken down and stored. That is the biggest difference – this is my community and that make it personal.”

Alumni: That’s a hard question to answer. Having gone to Loras, the statue was part of the culture, but so was Keane Field, which years ago was torn up to build a new facility. I’m not the one who places much importance on statues and symbols anyway, so it probably wouldn’t really impact me.”

Do you agree with the schools decision to take down the statue?

Current first year: I feel like its up to the college, and whatever they feel is best. I don’t really think removing the statue is what matters. I think it is about educating people about the history of Loras, and then how we are going to move forward.”

Professor Merkel: Answered in previous question.

Alumni: I do agree, if only because of the current climate we are living in. As a public institution, I think it would be a mistake to have the statue of a known slave owner front and center in the school’s image.”

It’s safe to say that our worlds current racial injustices have sparked many events and protests throughout the world. If this year was not so heavily consumed with racism, do you think Loras would have still decided to remove the statue?

Current first year: “I don’t think Loras would have decided to move it because it sounds like they just started looking into this very recently since this started happening, so if that’s the case, then I don’t think they would have removed it because they wouldn’t have known.”

Professor Merkel: The worlds current situation has pushed us at Loras to be more vocal and own our part in the larger problem that is racial injustice. Removing the statue is a similar move to other statues in the country being removed, but I sincerely do not think our administrations decision is influenced by those events. I firmly believe the statue is coming down because we are a college are mindful of the messages we send, not only with our words, but our actions and our symbols. Since I came to Loras 13 years ago, I have witnessed this community take a firm stand against every issue of discrimination that has arisen within and without our campus. We do not tolerate any form of oppression, so it does not surprise me in the least that we are owning and attempting to atone for the sins of our past.”

Alumni: Honestly, I don’t know. Loras has always been a big promoter of social justice, so it’s possible it would have come down anyway. There was already a push to take down confederate statues for the past number of years. But its hard to say.”

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