Student Affairs Statement on Black Lives

“Through both our academic and co-curricular programs, Marquette strives to develop men and women who will dedicate their lives to the service of others, actively entering into the struggle for a more just society.” (Marquette University Mission Statement)

These words of Marquette’s Mission embody the Jesuit ideal of being people for and with others, standing in solidarity with others as we work for a more just and inclusive world. Guided by this paradigm and consistent with Marquette’s Mission, the Division of Student Affairs denounces racism and oppression in all forms. As educators, we strive to develop students who not only recognize oppression and the physical and emotional toll of these systems, but who are committed to creating change.

This summer has been challenging in so many ways. We have experienced tension in attending to, reflecting on and responding to it all. COVID-19 has further exposed the racial inequities that have existed since the formation of our country and institution. More importantly, the infection of racism has become the norm in communities of color. We acknowledge the pain, emotional strain and frustration being expressed in protests by vast numbers of people in Milwaukee, the U.S., and around the world.

As a Catholic, Jesuit institution we have a responsibility to name injustices and act in accordance with our values. Black Lives Matter. Yet despite our previous best efforts, Black students, alumni, faculty and staff have not experienced Marquette as an embracing and inclusive home. In spite of the less than welcoming climate, they have bravely and repeatedly shared their experiences at Marquette as they thrived generation after generation. We are deeply appreciative of students who have shared their painful experiences, advocated for change on campus and in the larger community, and challenged us to do better.

While change begins at the individual level, we acknowledge the presence of systemic inequities. That is, there are systems in place (and being created) that have historically disadvantaged people of color, particularly Black communities, unfairly advantaging white people. We recognize that our own institution has participated in and perpetuated these systems. Because these systems are socially constructed, we believe that they can be disrupted and dismantled.

Marquette’s mission calls for social justice, but the work we have done in the division of student affairs thus far has not been sufficient. Now more than ever we in this division need to be more explicit in our discussion of and advocacy against racial injustices and take on the hard work of antiracism. We acknowledge that it will be uncomfortable to unlearn many racist practices and pedagogies, but doing so is necessary in order to be the transformational place we desire to be. We need to start with the end in mind, which is that ALL students feel included, safe and valued in our decision making. We are now keenly aware that the Black student experience needs to be centered in our antiracist work as educators to accomplish this goal.

Therefore, we are committed to:

  • Listening and responding with empathy to students’ experiences without becoming defensive.
  • Providing antiracist education for our staff and supporting them in their antiracist journeys.
  • Helping our students become contemplatives in action who will also critically examine their own biases and behaviors.
  • Advancing antiracism in our various spaces across campus.
  • Examining the impact of our practices and policies and considering race conscious policies.
  • Cocreating the student experience with students as partners in striving for equity.

Through this work we strive to be an antiracist unit within the university.

Young people, particularly college students, have always been an integral part of cultural change in our country, and this era is no exception. We stand with our students, acknowledging the experiences, hurt, joy, and passion that you bring to campus and eagerly await working with you towards a more just world.