Be the difference.
This is a mantra that influenced my decision to come to Marquette and many of the things I have done while attending school here.
I have always had a lot of respect for the Marquette student body as a group who is passionate about important issues, lives out a mission of caring for others and “being the difference.”
Recently, at a Sexual Violence Awareness Week event I was reminded that this is not the case for all. Many of the students at this event focusing on “Creating a Campus that Cares,” the slogan for the week, were athletes.
Several groups of these athletes, particularly men’s and women’s basketball and men’s soccer, were incredibly disrespectful as they spoke through the presentation and made many inappropriate comments.
These athletes are Marquette students, just like the rest of us, but that evening I felt as if the mission of this university meant nothing to them.
So many people hold student athletes in an elevated position because of their talent and prestige.
I have a hard time respecting people who cannot provide respect for others. These students represent Marquette University on a national level. I would think that courteous conduct at any event would not be asking too much.
This event specifically was one that focused on preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors of sexual violence, an important topic for any student leader or role model to learn about.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I just assumed that Marquette athletes broke the stereotype of college athletes — that they too, like other Marquette students, strove to be men and women for others and participate in our Marquette community. Brushing off important issues and neglecting to acknowledge others around you is not fulfilling either of these.
These attitudes aren’t only present at mandated speakers but I’ve noticed them in classes, in the cafeteria and all over campus.
These athletes do not want to participate in our Marquette community, but instead choose to separate themselves, strive for lower moral standards and carry on as if they were at any other university.
But we are not at any other university. We are at Marquette University. In fact, we are Marquette University and being a member of our community means more than showing up where you’re told and putting up with whoever you have to.
Being Marquette means that you reflect the respect that is offered to you, that you care for your peers and community members and that you work to “be the difference,” even if that means learning how to support a survivor of sexual violence at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night.
I still plan on buying my Fanatics tickets and cheering in the student section at the Bradley center, but my motivation for yelling, “We are Marquette!” has changed.
I will be shouting this cheer at the top of my lungs this year in the hopes that every member of the Marquette community will hear it and think to themselves about what this means to them. Now the ball is in your court. What will you do as a Marquette representative and community member to be the difference?
Erin Shawgo is a junior in the College of Arts & Science