In light of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction on all three counts by a grand jury, the university has offered students and faculty spaces to discuss the aftermath of the trial.
University Chaplain Scott Matheney administered a service last Thursday, April 22, on the steps of the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel following the long-awaited verdict. Earlier that day, students were encouraged to gather in-person and consider the enduring effects of Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd.
“This is a historical moment,” Matheney told The Leader. “I asked everybody — do you remember where you were Tuesday at four o'clock when the verdict came out? And pretty much everybody could remember that.”
Matheney believes that reflection spaces for the campus community are instrumental in uniting individuals and initiating difficult conversations. “Elmhurst has a history of being good at trying to speak out, and to create space.”
Recognizing centuries of racial injustice in the U.S. is critical to understanding the weight of the verdict, Matheney maintains.
“It's not individuals — we're part of a bigger structure,” he stressed. “That's the structural oppression, racism that a lot of people, especially people that are like white, are oblivious to.”
Students often lead initiatives to address inequities in institutions of higher education and beyond. “You hear students on campus say they want to see racism eradicated in their lifetime. This is a really important, noble goal,” said Matheney
Matheney mentioned that he will be convening with members of the Black Student Union at his home to continue exchanging ideas about the significance of the Chauvin verdict.
“There is kind of a sense of safe haven. This is Scott, as a chaplain, inviting people to come together and just talk out fear, frustrations, anger, history, and tell the story,” he said.