At this point, we at CSB/SJU have spent the last week picking apart not only the decision to disinvite Sammy Adams, but also other recent events such as the new city ordinances, housing selection, office mergers and tuition prices. Debates about community values, our relationship to the City of St. Joseph and the use of our money continue. Out of these conversations, we find three areas of concern we hope others continue to reflect and work on.
Community and Benedictine Values
The presidents and deans of CSB and SJU, along with the members of JEC, all mention community or Benedictine values in the reasoning to cancel ’13 Pines. We support creating a positive campus environment, especially one that fights misogeny and sexism, and we recognize this as a noble goal. However, we find inconsistencies with how this is addressed. In their letter to the JEC, Fr. Doug Mullin and Mary Geller mention offensive lyrics as part of their reasoning to disinvite Adams. We question why, if offensive lyrics are such a concern, that this logic is only employed for ’13 Pines. School dances and events throughout the year feature songs that have lyrics as questionable or objectionable as Adams’, but there is no action on these events. While we support the intentions of Mullin and Geller, the inconsistency is extremely frustrating, and we are concerned for whatever precedent this may set.
Student activity money and transparency
Whether or not you agree with the reasoning behind canceling Adams, all can agree that a significantly large amount of money may be on the line to essentially prove a point. Continuing legal matters prevent disclosing how much money may, or will, be lost, admittedly, but it would not be surprising if at least $15,000 is on the line. If students are not clearly informed of the financial impact of this decision when the dust settles, something is terribly wrong with both JEC’s and the administrations’ outreach to students. No matter what, there should be more transparency in regard to such a large portion of money.
#FreeStJoe and #FreeCSBSJU
With all of the above concerns, some students are organizing to represent their interests. Students now use #FreeStJoe and #FreeCSBSJU as a rallying cry, for better or worse. We applaud the efforts of those who are responsibly and respectfully trying to create a better dialogue with city and administration officials. However, too often we see views that make it seem as though students believe it is their right to treat St. Joe as their personal playground, often drunkenly. We are not entitled to dictate how St. Joe functions as a city, but we do have a right to participate in the process. We encourage students to remember this, and to think twice before posting on social media about frustrations. –In all, it is good to see the CSB/SJU community addressing these issues. However, addressing them in a sassy, snarky or expletive-laden nature is not going to help achieve actual changes. We hope this engagement continues, and we hope it continues responsibly and respectfully.