OP-ED: Embody ‘cura personalis’ on campus

Search the term “Cura Personalis” on the Marquette University website and you will receive no fewer than one hundred mentions of that cherished precept of Jesuit spirituality; that which directs us toward “care for the whole person.” In addition to the enumerable hits on our own website, our walls are adorned with banners, engravings and other reminders of the value Marquette places on this most sacrosanct of Ignatian values that engender mutual respect and acceptance.

Yet, alas, is this really at the heart of who we are as members of the Marquette community? Much has been made of the untimely and translucent resignation of former University President Father Scott Pilarz. As well, recent Tribune articles shed light on “opportunities” in the current university advising process. There are, I would propose, other examples whereby the university might be called to respond to subtle or even explicit examples at odds with this ideal.

If one were to poll the students, I can only imagine the litany of suggestions; inedible and unhealthy food in the dorms and the AMU, rising operating costs falling on students’ shoulders with ever-increasing tuition rates, campus crime remaining an issue while alcohol warnings continue to surge on, and on, and on, and on.

I would like to ask, would re-repeating these missteps help us gain any headway on these issues; the same issues that exist on many, if not all, college campuses? Or, might this result in a resemblance to a famous scene in Seinfeld re the “airing of grievances”?

It would be very easy for me to follow this path myself, to air grievances, point out the gaps in the university mission to not only espouse “Cura Personalis” but to embody it.

I would like to suggest an alternative. Each of us, to a person, whether we be student, faculty, administrator or employee, must accept this way of being as a nonnegotiable responsibility in being a member of the Marquette family.  The aspect of living and breathing this beautifully intended concept we can most influence is in ourselves. Hold a door, say please and thank you, if you see someone struggling – lend a hand. There will always be discourse, especially at an institution of higher learning, as there should be. However, we must all aspire to ensure that discourse leads to solutions, not disregard for each other.

As I am fortunate enough to be given a second chance at university, I am reminded that these are special times. There will be none other like it in our lives. I believe it is the relationships that make this era so special. Timeless friendships, life-altering teachers, trusted mentors, are all  part of the experience that will shape us for the remainder of our time. It is my intention to treat them as such: treasured, unique and beyond value.

If an entire campus were to accept this responsibility, and along with it the fruits of the environment it would promote, Marquette and its associate populi would not only make Marquette a very special place, we would be uniquely prepared to go forward and most assuredly “Be the Difference.”

Patrick Manner is an academic junior in the College of Communication. 

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