Friday, January 29, 2016

Concerned Catholics of Marquette Faculty and Staff Speak

We recently published a commentary on a meeting that a group of “concerned Catholics” with members of the Marquette administration. Several serious complaints were expressed about freedom of expression at Marquette, and especially the freedom to express Catholic viewpoints.

It was an insightful commentary, but we are now posting the minutes of the meeting, which give the full tenor of the meeting.

We are redacting a fair amount of material that might serve the identify the individuals involved. Many of the participants would not want to be identified — itself a sad commentary on the state of free expression at Marquette.

Concerned Catholics at Marquette University
Inaugural Meeting 12-2-15
  • 20 or so in attendance. Many faculty ([...]), the rest were staff ([...]). No students, though invitation was extended to Students for Life, Bellarmine Society and Adoration Guardians.
  • Cheryl Maranto and Alix Riley facilitating
    • “Dr. Lovell wants this survey to have impact. He doesn’t want to “put it on a shelf.”
  • One of the attendees asked why the adjective “Conservative” was applied to the group in the invitation to the forum.
    • [...] explained how this was the language that appeared in the Climate Survey Final Report, particularly in excerpts from pages 86 and 135.
    • The group agreed that the term “conservative” was marginalizing and that simply “Catholic” or “Concerned Catholics” would be a more accurate and effective descriptor.
  • Instead of breaking up into small groups, the forum opted to work together as a single group.
  • It was noted that we had all just received another reminder re: mandatory Title IX training. An attending [...] professor said the Title IX mandate is “very dangerous”.
    • He cited an instance where a fellow MU theo professor was accused of harassment for presenting basic Catholic teaching on sexuality.
    • The LGBTQ agenda is fundamentally against the Catholic faith, yet we are not allowed to challenge for fear of retribution.
    • Those who hold traditional Catholic values are not free to speak up.
  • Another professor of [...] noted that there is actual persecution going on in that faculty who stand up for Catholic teaching are marginalized and have measures taken against them – denial of promotion etc.
  • A professor from the [...] noted that the anthropology of the survey itself was not in line with Catholic teaching (offering numerous gender options).
    • Also – only 31% participated.
  • A fundraiser from [...] noted that many alumni tell [...] of their disappointment and disenchantment with Marquette because of its departure from its Catholic identity.
    • An Alumni “Climate” Survey was discussed. Not feasible at this point, but a good idea for the future.
  • Another [...] professor said that the persecution experienced by those who stand up for Catholic doctrine and values is not organized, but it is clear that you are putting yourself at risk (“As we all saw in our own department.”)
    • How can a theology professor not talk about the Church’s teaching on human sexuality? But, under Title IX, any student who claims to take offense at what is heard in the classroom can anonymously report the professor and cause him or her a world of problems. “This is hugely intimidating.”
    • Few, if any, feel free to discuss Catholic teaching on marriage.
      • Another [...] professor said he does – and so far with no negative consequence – but he said he has not yet tried for a promotion.
  • A professor said he had heard that faculty and administrators at other colleges and universities were protesting Title IX on the basis that it restricts academic freedom.
    • “Where is the backbone of Marquette administration in protesting Title IX mandates which necessarily restrict the free exchange of ideas, particularly in theology and philosophy – the very core of Catholic, Jesuit education?”
    • It is impossible for a professor who has taken the Mandatum to not represent Catholic teaching. But in so doing, he or she will inevitably violate Title IX policies as they now exist sooner or later.
  • A [...] representative noted that CheckMarq now has five or six gender categories. How is this representative of Catholic teaching (at a Catholic university)?
  • A [...] representative asked, “Are we Catholic or are we not? And if we are, what does that mean?”
    • Little “c” catholic means universal. Big “C” Catholic means the Church and Her teachings.
    • Being at Marquette (as faculty, staff, student) means respecting the university’s tradition and the faith it was founded upon.
  • Another [...] representative added that, as it currently conducts itself, Marquette is almost indistinguishable from secular schools.
  • A [...] professor quoted his dean saying “Catholic means whatever you want it to mean.”
  • Another [...] professor said that what we’re witnessing is the confluence of a number of university decisions/policies/concessions that – over time -- have had the cumulative effect of diminishing or negating Marquette’s Catholic identity and intellectual quality.
    • “Suddenly you wake up one day and you can’t do what you’re supposed to do” (i.e. educate students in the Catholic tradition).
    • Administration needs to understand that there are unintended consequences resulting from their decisions/policies/concessions to secular demands.
    • “We always do what everyone else is doing.” Why? Why not be Catholic?
  • Another [...] professor said “If Marquette were really Catholic, we would be diverse” (i.e. a distinguished and alternative voice in the increasingly homogeneous ideological ethos of higher education).
  • A [...] professor noted that complaints from students or others about being exposed to basic legitimate Catholic teachings ought to be dismissed on the face of it. Someone may not like it and no one is being forced to believe in it, but the teaching is what it is.
  • A [...] professor asked the UA representatives if they are questioned as to why someone should pay more money for a Catholic education that isn’t in anyway identifiably Catholic.
    • [...] said – yes – more and more that conversation is occurring.
  • Another [...] noted that in Marquette’s strategic plan, and in a recent high level discussion about it, there was barely any mention of “Catholic.” Where it is mentioned it is shallow and gratuitous.
  • Another [...] said that we also need to protect students – there are few if any clear and authentically Catholic experiences available to them.
    • Campus Ministry is a grave disappointment
  • A [...] professor noted that he discovered a group of serious Catholic students who were meeting in secret. When he encouraged them to make themselves known and grow their membership, they stopped communicating with him.
    • Catholic students are scared.
    • A [...] reported of a student who told him of a professor who has made slurs against the Church e.g. mocking the idea of Mary’s virginity etc. in class.
  • Many agreed that Campus Ministry contributes to the diminishment of Catholic identity
    • A [...] professor related an incident wherein he and his colleagues were informed that Campus Ministry had declared, “The real problem with making progress at Marquette is the Theology Department” and that, consequently, focus groups would be conducted to assess the perception of the Theo department across campus. The dept. staff were told (by the Dept. Chair) that they would be informed of the outcome of the study. They never were.
  • Another [...] professor acknowledged that the Theology Department fell into intense disfavor after the Jodi O’Brien incident as a number of theology profs were critical of her being hired and supported her offer being rescinded. “Other departments hate the Theology Department because of this.”
  • [...] professor: “I’m concerned about not being allowed to be a scholar. I can’t say the truth. I am not allowed to say what Catholics believe, even if I was an atheist, I could not communicate what Catholic doctrine” as a result of anti-Catholic/Title IX environment at MU.
    • “Basically now we have the students teaching us.” Students call the shots as to what can and cannot be discussed in class.
    • If we were to take Title IX literally, we would say that the Theo Department suffers from a majority of individuals who self-identify as male and thus lacks diversity. “We need to address this rampant self-definition as male problem.”
      • University needs to decide – is diversity a serious issue or is it a matter of self-definition? If a number of male faculty decide to self-identify as female, is the problem of a majority male staff solved? This is the absurdity we are entering into and encouraging.
  • [...] has opposite issue. [example of anti-male discrimination redacted]
    • There are very few males on CON faculty.
    • “Catholic” was removed from the dean search criteria
    • “Catholic” was very nearly removed from CON mission statement (per faculty who wanted it removed.)
  • A [...] representative noted that “Catholic” is largely missing from our advertising and marketing branding.
    • “Social Justice” has replaced “Catholic” Social Justice is a vague term that is often applied to definitively anti-Catholic practices e.g. “Reproductive Rights”
  • [...] continued – there is no plan for how we are going to be a Catholic Jesuit institution for the future.
    • Do we want to be a Catholic university or not?
  • [...] professor said he had cause to address embryonic stem cell research in a lecture.
    • He explicitly told students it was wrong, unnecessary and that they shouldn’t participate in it in their future work.
    • He quickly received an email from Academic Affairs asking, “What did you say???” Evidently there was a strong complaint, maybe more.
    • Prof addressed directly in class saying “This is what the Catholic teaching is and what I advocate. If you don’t like it, go take a different course.”
    • His point was that faculty need to be bold and not afraid to teach Catholic doctrine and in accordance with Catholic doctrine.
  • A [...] professor recounted a moment from Dr. Pat Carey’s “Is MU Still Catholic” talk a few years ago.
    • An undergraduate student stood up and said, “I’m afraid to affirm my Catholicism.”
  • Students are laboring under a heavier burden than faculty.
    • Students don’t speak up in class. They are policing each other and censoring themselves.
    • There is a climate of repression, not of learning.
    • No one is insisting that anyone believe this or that, but we all must be able to speak freely.
  • A staff member from [...] said that real diversity should include respect for Catholic views.
  • A [...] representative wondered if we should consider proposing MU remove “Catholic” from its name
    • Misrepresenting the faith to an uncatechized world does untold damage to souls, hearts and minds. Better not to claim to be Catholic than to overtly misrepresent it.
  • [...] prof insisted that senior leadership recognizes that Catholic identity is essential to Marquette’s survival.
    • Another agreed and said that he strongly believes President Lovell is trying to make Marquette Catholic again.
    • We (this group) need to support him in this. All agreed.
    • The student group IGNITE was mentioned – trying to restore Catholicism among students. We need to support them and other such student groups as well.
  • A [...] professor who has served on the Faculty Hearing Committee and is also an MU Parent said he is very concerned about the state of our core curriculum.
    • “You have to be very careful with theology and philosophy, what’s happening in some of these classes (regarding Catholic identity) is a crime.”
    • Core classes need special scrutiny.
    • He has tried to steer his kids to best teachers etc.
    • Mention was made of Notre Dame’s Fr. Miscamble’s attempt to formalize such a selection process at ND ( and that he was shut down in the attempt.
  • A [...] prof added that Title IX brings all this into focus – “It is ideologically fascist.”
    • A [...] prof added that Title IX represents the imposition of a value system, a creed upon Marquette (all universities).
    • Students and faculty are self-silencing.
  • Concept of hiring for mission has completely disappeared.
    • If MU tried this now, they might find an expanded talent pool
    • Some departments adamantly refuse to hire for mission. This needs to be addressed by administration.
    • Hiring for mission can just be words. Just say “social justice” and you’re in.
    • Admitting to devout Catholicism has and can backfire on candidates.
  • [...] prof asked [...] reps – Do you seek funds for Catholic aspects of the university?
    • [...] rep said we do: monstrance for adoration, March for Life … but there aren’t many opportunities
    • Office of Mission and Ministry/ Campus Ministry are in some disarray, hard to identify funding priorities
  • [...] prof mentioned that a proposal is in the works for a Catholic Studies program
    • Similar to St. Thomas and others, but more inter-disciplinary/comprehensive.
    • This could be a fundraising priority and an item in the MU strategic plan
  • Another professor emphasized that it’s very important we not accept the notion of a dichotomy between Catholicism and diversity.
    • Catholicism truly embraces all.
    • MU’s challenge is in balancing its commitment to Catholic identity and embracing all
    • Another theo professor added, “The Catholic Church is the most inclusive organization in the world.”
  • A professor asked if there wasn’t a class action lawsuit or some legal action being taken by colleges and universities against restrictions of Title IX – which is harmful to secular institutions as well.
    • Can MU administration take some kind of stand at all?
    • Can MU Legal look into how faculty, students and staff can be protected from Title IX consequences merely for articulating Catholic doctrine?
  • Commitment to academic freedom for Catholic scholars – protection & articulation - for staff and students too. 11 voted this most important, 1 important, 1 less important
  • Hiring for mission – proactive from the top thru to departments. Need clarity 8 voted this important, 1 less important
  • Need to include Catholic in our branding and strategic plan. 2 voted this most important, 5 less important
  • Have General Counsel determine options to challenge Title IX mandates. 1 voted most important, 1 important, 3 less important
  • Board of Trustees needs to show commitment to Catholic identity. 1 voted this important, 2 less important
  • Start Catholic Studies program (interdisciplinary). 1 voted this important, 2 less important
  • Administration should actively protect Catholic faculty, staff and students. When there’s a complaint, don’t presume guilt. 1 voted this most important, 2 important
  • Encourage student Catholic organizations. 1 voted this important 1 less important
  • Avoid dichotomizing Catholic and diversity.
  • Serious promotion and implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae
  • Increase physical manifestations/visibility of Catholic faith around campus – Crucifixes (not just crosses), statues of Mary, better promotion of liturgical events, Rosaries, Adoration etc.
  • Avoid scrutiny/risk of persecution for articulating traditional Catholic teachings – in classrooms and elsewhere.
  • Affirm that people can say that they accept and even like that Marquette is a Catholic institution.
  • What happened to focus group re: Theology Department by campus ministry?
  • Need physical manifestations of Catholic faith – Crucifix (not just cross)/Statue of Mary.
  • Affirm Catholic identity.
  • Campus Ministry needs a “Catholic tract” programming for Catholic students, in addition to other faiths.
  • Encourage Catholic Student Organizations in and outside of Campus Ministry

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If possible, I would like to attend the next meeting. I am a Ph.D. student/adjunct at Marquette. It would be encouraging to me to see others trying to live out their Catholic faith and possibly contribute.

3:56 PM  

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