Lack of diversity requires action; ‘Means Project’ a start

I call upon Provost Madeline Wake and President the Rev. Robert Wild to assist Office of Student Development director Dr. Mark McCarthy to come up with a measly $2,500 to bring American Indian Movement leader Russell Means to Marquette University this month during American Indian Week. On Feb. 1, McCarthy indicated to Tribune writer Anna Kwidzinska that the lack of this sum was the primary reason that Means will not be invited to Marquette this American Indian Week, though McCarthy manages never to commit to bringing Means to campus ever.

We know that Means wants to speak at Marquette University. We know that Marquette University is sinfully (I use the term with intent) deficient in terms of its diversity efforts and effects. We know that the 'Warriors' issue is driving many to suppress dialogue about American Indian issues. We know that when injustice presents itself to us there is no better time than now to attack and there are no better people than us to lead the way. I call upon Wake, Wild, and McCarthy to share this leadership burden with me, with Ojibwe nation member and student leader Darren Thompson and with all of us who care more for justice than about money.

And we know that somewhere on this campus, either in the Provost's Discretionary Budget or the Diversity Office budget, in University Ministry, in the Helen Way Klingler School of Arts & Sciences, in the individual department discretionary budgets, in the MUSG budget or those of other interested student organizations or in any of the sundry slush funds every institution must maintain in order to function, there is money. Shake the corporate tree and fund the Russell Means project! Diversity does not happen as the accident of the passive. Diversity is made at the insistence of the just, by the hands of the just and for the sake of humanity.

Why does the Russell Means project matter? Because we are entirely and intractably deficient in making our campus population represent the greater community. Because every failure on any diversity issue exposes Marquette University to formal and ruinous complaints to the US Civil Rights Commission. Because our passive efforts toward diversity issues coupled with our aggressive responses to the comfort of the majority constitute an institutional racism directly counter to our shared Mission. Because the frenzy of the MU Republicans over the Adopt a Sniper fundraiser garnered a full-administrative turn out and our alleged and unfunded commitment to diversity has been 'back-burnered' again so the white kids get their crisis resolved first and best. Because this University is built on American Indian land.

So I call upon Provost Wake and President Wild to soften your positions, soften your hearts and loosen your purse strings. Make diversity happen. Bring Russell Means to Marquette University this month. There is no question that you can.

To paraphrase from a photograph in the Raynor archives: If there is no room for Russell Means at Marquette University, then there is no room for Marquette University in the world. Fund the Russell Means Project!

Paul Shinkle is a graduate student in philosophy.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 24 2005.