To the Editor:

As we all have probably noticed coming back from spring break, we are down a few trees. Some due to wind (sorry Jesuit Resisdence), while others were deliberately cut down to put up a parking lot. I was talking with a friend who said she thought it was ironic, that in the University’s self-proclaimed year of activism, the administration so blatantly placated students until they left campus in order to avoid activism.

I think it is more specific, the administration wished to avoid grass roots activism. They are fine with the kind of activism that fellow administrators hierarchically frame, organize and orchestrate in a singular week. But activism founded in a coalition of dedicated students, professors and staff who are working to educate and activate on the ground level is out of their control and thus seems out of the question.

I am not saying that institutionally we should not house a space where people can be guided and develop their activism. I think that institutional support is essential in creating a climate of change on our campus. However, it seems that this is the only “appropriate” or supported activism on this campus, the kind that safely sits in the confines of a class or of student activities.

I believe that we have moved beyond irony in the way the administration handled the most recent grass roots activism on campus. We have moved into a highly problematic paradigm where we, as a university, are no longer functioning as an institution of higher education guided by Jesuit ideals but instead are adopting a corporate model. This corporate mindset extinguishes the opportunity for dynamic tension and dialogue, opting instead for what is easy, smooth, and hassle free. If my education here has taught me anything it is that you lose incredible opportunities to grow if you don’t engage in the difficult, messy, conversation.

In an increasingly fragmented world, I have found a guiding Catholic principal to be living with integrity. Integrity as a concept is about consistency of actions, values, methods, principles, expectations and outcomes. Where is the integrity in the University making a commitment to activism and then not even engaging in the process? How are we as a community fragmented when in academia and parts of student affairs we as students are being encouraged to be active but in practice we are faced with paternalistic placation? I am not saying that in the end the trees should or should not have stayed, but the administration denied the entire university community the opportunity to struggle and grow together by cutting them down over the break. I believe continuing on this path stops us short of our potential to live out our Jesuit mission and we lose a huge piece of our Catholic identity. We cannot be afraid, or worse so sure that we are right, that we do not have the complicated conversations.

Something I love about Jesuits is that they are so intentional about their faith they welcome exploration, other ideas, challenges to their thoughts, and see them all as opportunities for growth. I wonder if the same can be said for our administration.

With hope and deep dissatisfaction,

Sarah Gatti ’10

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