VIEWPOINT: MU: Rejuvenate old radical spirit

If you haven’t heard that this year marks the 100th anniversary of women at Marquette, you must be living under a rock.

We see it on signs around campus and fun facts on nearly every lamppost and we hear about it in church. You can’t escape it.

But I wonder, is the student body really getting the feel for the significance of this event?

Marquette was the first Catholic institution IN THE WORLD to admit women. The president at the time was fired and the pope I’m sure near excommunicated everyone involved in pushing this through.

Where has this radical spirit gone at Marquette?

Walking on campus now I sometimes feel I’m working for a large corporation. The academic buildings are nice but show almost no signs of vigor, or more specifically, the right kind of student movement.

By this I mean the kind which exemplifies that centennial achievement we’re trying so hard to remind ourselves of. Signs for student events and activities are confined to small corkboards in corners.

The outdoors are pristine, with little sign that students actually exist if it’s not the 10 minutes between classes.

Where is that rigorous critical reflection of “tradition?” Where is that impulse to continuously and creatively challenge our static worldviews? Where is that desire for more progressive change?

I want us to rediscover the spirit from 100 years ago.

What are the pressing issues that face our society and our church today? Homosexuality is certainly one of them. Currently, the church’s official stance on homosexuality is it’s something one can’t really change but is still morally wrong.

Consequently, that individual must “take up the cross” and live a life of celibacy and silence about the issue. A fundamental part of one’s being, his or her sexuality, is to be silenced both internally and externally.

Just think about the pain and suffering this must cause many members of our church family. They are to be made invisible, shun this fundamental human attribute and live a life without sexual companionship.

Now let’s think back 100 years. Apparently the Church’s official position was that women could not be educated alongside men.

How stupid and silly does that sound now? Women were being oppressed then in the name of church tradition.

Flash forward 100 years. Today lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals are oppressed and silenced, made to feel they are invisible or should be.

How about this time, we stand with this marginalized group in the name of Jesus.

Let us revive that radical spirit that compels us to do what we know is right.

Let us challenge the church that we simultaneously shape while we stand as members and representations of it.

If we do that, maybe the silencing of our LGBT community members will sound silly and stupid in 100 more years.

This celebration should be a purposeful review of a crucial moment in the history of Catholic education.

To reduce this to the assumption that the work is complete is not only a betrayal to that moment, but perhaps also to the Catholic tradition from which the pursuit of radical change was inspired.

Desiree Valentine is a senior in the College of Communication