Brooke McArdle gains support through protest

Protesters+stand+outside+of+Zilber+while+McArdles+hearing+happens+at+the+same+time.

Photo by Benjamin Wells

Protesters stand outside of Zilber while McArdle’s hearing happens at the same time.

A sign outside of Zilber Hall read “Brooke got into good trouble” in support of Brook McArdle, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences Nov. 5.

McArdle received two student conduct violations after organizing a sit-in inside Zilber Hall in support of faculty and staff members threatened by potential layoffs and budget cuts proposed by the university.

After hearing that McArdle was facing these violations a social media campaign called, “#MarquetteSaveBrooke” started making its way around Instagram, which then led to a protest outside of Zilber Hall Nov. 5.

Although McArdle was in her apartment while her hearing was taking place, staff members and students stood outside Zilber where members of Marquette’s administration were on a virtual call with her.

McArdle has yet to receive any verdicts from her hearing.

“I am sincerely grateful for those who have supported me during this conduct process. To have the backing of not only my family and friends but also Marquette alums, faculty, and staff is wonderful,” McArdle said. “This process has been enormously stressful and a clear demonstration of Marquette’s attempt to suppress a student’s voice. I am thankful that others have recognized this egregious and arbitrary execution of administrative authority and I hope that these charges can be removed.”

Devon Wiensch, a junior in the College of Communication, and Riley Ellison, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, both attended the protest.

“We’re all here to just show our solidarity for what (McArdle) is saying,” Ellison said.

Wiensch and Ellison were present at the sit-in that McArdle had organized Oct. 21 in support of other staff members.

“The administration is not standing by what it needs to be not is it standing by what it claims to be,” Wiencsh said. “We’re kind of just trying to make sure they hold on to their word and stand by it.”

Beyond the issues of staff members potentially being laid off, Wiench also expressed her dismay that the university was trying to silence student voices.

“It’s terrifying,” Wiench said. “Censorship in any form is wrong and shouldn’t happen. … Speaking your mind, you shouldn’t be scared to do it. Especially if (Marquette) teaches you to be men and women for others.”

Both Wiench and Ellison said they were also frustrated with the university’s lack of transparency on all levels.

“It’s really kind of setting a really scary precedent for students that want to speak up about things, which we’re already encouraged to do, to be the difference, to do social change,” Ellison said. “This is a Catholic Jesuit institution that is claiming to create men and women who serve the community. The fact that they’re … calling somebody out on something like this is really worrying.”

Matthew Neuhjar, professor of theology, attended the protest along with other staff members.

“The administration putting her through this is kind of ridiculous. It’s clearly not because of any great wrong thing she did but instead to send a message to students that they shouldn’t speak up, that they can’t express their opinion,” Neuhjar said. “I think that’s wrong.”

Although the idea of McArdle’s first amendment being threatened is in question, Neuhjar said he felt that it is a Jesuit value in of itself to speak up against opposing positions — something that McArdle is now being punished for.

“I find it hypocritical,” Neuhjar said. “It demonstrates cowardice on the behalf of the administrators to make an example out of an undergraduate student. … It feels really wonderful to know that there are students out there that care about their professors, that care about their staff here at Marquette, and are willing to speak up for us. … We are deeply appreciative and want them to know we have their backs as well.”

This story was written by Benjamin Wells. He can be reached at benjamin.wells@marquette.edu.