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Marquette administration sends letter addressing divisive political climate

Photo by Austin Anderson // austin.anderson@marquette.edu Students and faculty gathered at Westowne Square last Wednesday to show unity.

Photo by Austin Anderson // austin.anderson@marquette.edu Students and faculty gathered at Westowne Square last Wednesday to show unity.

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Marquette administration sent out a letter Nov. 11 calling for unity after the election results were announced. 

Several college campuses across the nation experienced outbreaks of violence and verbal abuse. At the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, “Go home n—ers” was written on the front door of the residence of students of color. At San Diego State University, two men stole a female students’ vehicle and purse after making hateful remarks about Muslims and Trump.

The letter, titled “Dialogue, not division,” encouraged students with differing viewpoints to have a conversation instead of showing hostility. Provost Daniel Myers, Vice President for Student Affairs Xavier Cole and Executive Director for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion William Welburn all signed the letter. 

Myers said in an email the action should be seen as recognition that Marquette understands the current political climate is divisive. However, he said acknowledging similarities will help students respect differences.

Differing viewpoints are natural and healthy, and we are all individuals,” Myers said. “But we have two important commonalities: we’re all human and we are all part of the Marquette family.”

Emma Baker, a freshman in the College of Engineering, explained how coming together as a community can help students who had a strong negative reaction to the election move forward.

“We shouldn’t be isolated or be alone with our stances,” Baker said. “We should talk about it and communicate. Hopefully that will bring forth understanding so that the atmosphere doesn’t have to be so negative.”

Stephanie Wissing, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she was glad the university encouraged dialogue instead of promoting a partisan viewpoint.

“I think this is the best way for the university to say that, ‘We recognize that this is an important issue that a lot of people are dealing with right now,’” Wissing said. “They didn’t take a stance on it, they just said, ‘Let’s talk about the result in a respectful way.’”

Drew Busch, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said he’s glad the university respected viewpoints that might seem controversial.

“I think it’s important that respect is maintained for whatever party someone chooses to support,” Busch said.

Claire Keyes, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she thought the letter could be viewed as defending Trump supporters. She said by encouraging a dialogue, the university is indirectly trying to suppress backlash against Trump’s victory.

“I feel like you can’t really encourage (Trump supporters) because what they supported was racism, bigotry and sexism,” Keyes said. “The administration is trying to make it sound very pretty, that we’re all going to be unified and have a dialogue. They’re saying ‘dialogue not division,’ but we’re going to be divided over this issue.”

Keyes said that she didn’t feel like the letter did enough to show support for marginalized communities.

“They were talking about unity, but they never said anything specifically like, ‘We support all people of all communities,’” Keyes said. “If Marquette has this mission of being the difference and welcoming all people, they need to take that stance and say they will welcome everyone. They didn’t say anything concrete. The letter is super general.”

Myers said he hopes any student that feels they are being marginalized or becoming the victims of hateful acts will report the incident or incidents using Marquette’s bias incident reporting system.

“Behavior that belittles, excludes or harms others is not something we as a community can stand by and tolerate,” Myers said.

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