Interrogating MU “inclusivity”

Empowerment Co-Chair Desiree Valentine has a letter-to-the-editor in today’s Tribune. I’ve reprinted it here with her permission, and thrown in a link:

If I had a nickel for every time Marquette boasted about how “inclusive” it is, I’d be rich.

And if I were rich, I would donate money to Marquette under the condition that it would be used to foster diverse and inclusive initiatives. Why? Because the simple statement of inclusivity as found in the mission statement is not enough.

I need to see that spirit be put into action in all spheres of our university, whether it is academia or student affairs. As MUSG diversity commissioner this year, my job has been to foster educational and entertainment opportunities around diverse issues.

Just last week I invited local filmmaker, Ashley Altadonna, to Marquette to share some of her short films that have been seen in numerous film festivals.

Her films look at the concept of gender and chronicle her own experiences living as a transgendered woman. Little did I know that when I submitted a request for approval of this event, the event would be a bit too diverse for Student Affairs to sponsor and I was told to find an academic department to sponsor the event.

Marquette is an academic institution of learning. It is also Jesuit. These two things are not mutually exclusive. When I got to college, my goal was to leave having learned, changed and matured as a person. This can only happen if my worldview is constantly challenged and developed from as many different perspectives as possible.

Thus, initiatives around these “provocative,” “controversial” issues need to not only be supported in theory, but practice as well and also by all facets of the university, including (and perhaps primarily) Student Affairs.

Gender issues deeply inflect the society we live in and questions on its complex nature reach even the most conservative of Catholic students.To ignore this is to willfully remove our community from a rich dialogue that is growing rapidly in the larger world.

What will it take to actually become the diverse and inclusive university we call ourselves and simultaneously strive to be?

If you know, please speak up—students, faculty, staff and administration included.

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