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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Convocation aftermath, opportunity missed

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake
The original convocation took place Aug. 25.

If Marquette wants to continue to honorably use the slogan “Be The Difference,” they must first allow students to be the difference on campus.

What could have served as a moment for healing, understanding and reverence became one of retribution. After students of color gathered to perform a demonstration during Marquette’s New Student Convocation his past August, they have been forced to step down from their leadership positions. The demonstration expressed students’ frustration with how Marquette capitalizes off of their students of color without listening to them – now we see the university has tuned them out even more. 

Students who spoke out at the convocation directly addressed feeling like they were being used as a statistic. Marquette repeatedly announced that the incoming class for this school year was the most diverse incoming class. Despite this strength in numbers, students of color on campus wanted to be seen for their intrinsic value. 

The code of conduct includes two notable points that are relevant in this situation. One, if students want to perform a demonstration, they must make the university aware prior to the event. Two, students who hold leadership positions on campus will be removed from said position if they are not in “good standing” throughout their time in office.

Marquette released a statement regarding the measures that were taken following the demonstration at the convocation: “The student conduct process is separate from student organization leadership policies. It is a longstanding policy outlined in Marquette’s student organization guidelines that the officers of all student organizations, as well as the elected and appointed senators and officials of MUSG, must be in good standing (not on academic or disciplinary probation) at the time of their election or appointment and throughout their terms of office.”

The Marquette Wire Editorial Board asserts an understanding that this consequence was a direct result of the university’s student code of conduct and does not accuse administrative bodies of stepping outside of their rights in making this decision, but wishes to address how the process and code of conduct itself are flawed. 

Being a private institution, Marquette does not have to abide by free speech protections under the First Amendment – but, that does not mean that they shouldn’t. 

The students of color who spoke out at the convocation went to these lengths because they did not feel that they were being acknowledged through other avenues. They wanted to make it clear that to retain and appreciate students of color in the future, Marquette must act now. The way that the university met these words and acted in punishment can be seen as an opportunity missed. 

Marquette could have taken accountability, criticism and action. 

Rather than removing students from their leadership positions, Marquette could have met to discuss what changes the students wanted to be made. They could have had a constructive conversation and sought out real solutions rather than taking away their voices and their positions which allowed them to speak up.

Although the student code of conduct notes that student leaders must be in good academic standing before and throughout their time in that position, there needs to be some amount of adaptability. Students demonstrating to address that Marquette needs to advocate for them more because they are feeling left in the dust is not comparable to students acting out of malice, violence and just plain “bad behavior.” 

There should be some amount of “wiggle room” considering that we live in an evolving world. We do not live in the days when women did not attend universities, the days of one-room schoolhouses and strictly chalkboards – and we do not live in a world where students should be silenced for making their voices heard when they are faced with injustice. 

Students can make a difference alongside their fellow students of color. 

At Marquette, students should not take a bystander role in this situation if they love and empathize with the people being directly affected by it. Although there are students who may not be directly harmed by this issue, recognizing their white privilege and taking action is important. To advocate, students can show up for the organizations that are being punished and have their leaders removed. They can take an active role, support the organizations or even sponsor an event for them. We are more powerful together than we are alone.

Until the vacant leadership positions in the Marquette University Student Government organization are filled, the university must be held accountable. Because this is one of the few bodies that the university answers to in any capacity, it must not die out. Although it may be discouraging right now, it is important that students step up to the plate and take on leadership roles in student government to show unity and make an impact. 

Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and ten additional top editors across the organization.

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About the Contributor
Grace Cady
Grace Cady, Managing Editor of the Marquette Journal
Grace Cady is a senior at Marquette University from Delafield, Wisconsin. She is majoring in journalism and political science. This year she will be the managing editor of the Journal. Outside of the Wire, Grace likes to read, write creatively, watch movies and spend time with friends & family. Prior to this year, she served as the executive opinions editor at the Wire and has held intern positions at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and the National Federation of Federal Employees in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Grace is part of the O'Brien Investigative Fellowship program this year alongside Julia Abuzzahab.

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