Dear Marquette community,
As president of Marquette University and director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, we want to reassure the Marquette community that we remain fully committed to the center and its many programs for students, faculty and staff. The university will continue to support the educational and intellectual exploration of issues of gender and sexuality as we work to foster human dignity and justice. The prevention of sexual violence and discrimination based on gender or sexuality are paramount issues that we must continue to address with urgency and commitment.
With the center just six months old, we understand that work remains to be done to have more comprehensive processes in place to implement its charter. We will address this work together moving forward. Last week, we jointly met with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center advisory board to examine ways we can collaborate on gender and sexuality educational efforts that will strengthen our community. We know that open communication will ensure our center’s success and we look forward to continued community dialogue.
As president, it is important that I clarify how I was alerted of the workshop contents and how I came to the resulting decision to withdraw university sponsorship. I first learned of the programmatic details when a current student emailed me. The student asked thoughtful questions and did not request that I take action. The student has not spoken publicly about it, nor sought attention for his views. After reviewing the specific workshop outline, I consulted with university leadership and found aspects that fell outside our Catholic, Jesuit identity. As the workshop was already underway, I made my decision shortly after reviewing the details. My decision was in no way based on outside influence.
Together, we recognize that at a Catholic, Jesuit institution tensions can exist when exploring the topics of gender and sexuality. But, we continue to have great faith that we will find a mutually respectful way to authentically explore these tensions so that we can ensure purposeful programming that meets student needs and is consistent with our mission and identity. In reflecting on the challenges of last week, we consider it one moment in a much larger and sustained approach to building a productive and respected Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. We pledge to continue working together to accomplish the center’s significant goals.
Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
Dr. Susannah Bartlow
Director, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center