PATEL: MU must support students’ advocacy efforts, protect faculty and staff

Brooke+McArdle+led+a+sit-in+at+Zilber+Hall+Oct.+21.+

Photo by Claire Gallahger

Brooke McArdle led a sit-in at Zilber Hall Oct. 21.

Marquette University’s charging of Brooke McArdle for peacefully protesting in support of faculty and staff is wrong, and the university should not have sought punishment against her.

Brooke McArdle, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, was recently exonerated of two student conduct violations Nov. 20 after being charged with them Nov. 17 because she led a sit-in at Zilber Hall in opposition to the university’s proposed layoffs. She was charged for organizing a sit-in and refusing to surrender her ID.

According to the university, the violations were for not presenting university identification and violating Marquette’s demonstration policy, which resulted in her facing a punishment of writing a 7-page paper on how to fix the current demonstration policy. McArdle said that although she didn’t give an ID to university administrative leaders during the sit-in because they did not identify the source of that policy or give information about what the ramifications would be if they didn’t give identification, she gave them her name.

No other student present at the sit-in was charged with student conduct violations.

McArdle and other students’ decision to sit-in was in response to discussions of the university potentially laying off hundreds of faculty and staff.

Provost Kimo Ah Yun said in a Sept. 21 University Academic Senate meeting that Marquette could experience potential layoffs of faculty and staff due to budget shortfalls. This could result in 250 to over 300 potential layoffs.

A major cause for the potential layoffs is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most at-risk faculty and staff for layoffs are graduate teaching assistants and non-tenured faculty because their employment is not guaranteed. According to the Faculty Handbook, those with seniority stay longer. Therefore the latest to be hired will potentially be cut off, many of which are people of color and women. These members of Marquette’s faculty and staff are essential to providing support for female students and students of color as well as creating a more diverse campus environment.

McArdle should have not been punished in the first place because she was trying to advocate for Marquette faculty, staff and students.

Many faculty and staff members are at risk for losing their jobs and having to leave a place many consider home. Moreover, the university is potentially forcing them out during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may make it even more difficult to find jobs.

In a blog post titled “Be the Difference: A Marquette Myth,” McArdle said, “Perhaps the most ironic part of this outcome is that clearly the administrators ignored the requirement for them to take into account my motivation. This institution advertises Marquette students to ‘be the difference,’ ‘be men and women for others,’ etc. And yet, when I stand up for the core of Jesuit values — academic excellence, serving others, and cura personalis — I am found to be in violation of the conduct code.”

McArdle led the protest because she believed in and was influenced by “cura personalis,” or care of the whole self. She was advocating for the well-being of faculty and staff, which according to the university’s actions, somehow goes against everything the university claims it stand for.

Marquette encourages students to “be the difference,” and that is exactly what McArdle did. And she was punished for it. She did what a lot of students didn’t have the courage to do — fight for the rights of our faculty.

McArdle didn’t deserve the depth of  her punishment. She became a leader to support faculty and staff’s fight to keep their jobs and fought for the current and future well-being of students and Marquette. Her action can impact many other students to fight for what they believe in by organizing a peaceful protest and finding others who have the same belief.

As fellow students, we shouldn’t let the university take our education or let our fellow peer face consequences. We shouldn’t let Marquette make decisions about our future without informing us first.

Brooke’s punishment was completely uncalled for and she doesn’t deserve any added stress especially during a time like this. We can still do our part to protect the faculty by following @students4mufaculty on Instagram as well as sharing and signing petitions in support. We can even give our professors good evaluations to show how much they impact and mean to. 

We must stand with McArdle, faculty and staff. 

This story was written by Krisha Patel. She can be reached at krisha.patel@marquette.edu