The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Discipline of student activists should not discourage MUSG candidates

Photo by Claire Gallagher
Marquette University Student Government located in the Alumni Memorial Union

As Marquette University Student Government presidential candidates are being announced, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of speaking out and up for the student body. Currently, the positions of president and vice president are vacant and have been since October.

The former president and executive vice president, Bridgeman Flowers and Samari Price, participated in the demonstration at the 2022 New Student Convocation. The two were forced by university administrators to step down due to their part in the demonstration. The aim of the demonstration was to call attention to the demonstrators’ belief that Marquette was lacking in support for students of color. Many Marquette community members expressed their belief that Marquette took disciplinary action too far. A handful of professors rallied behind disciplined students. Faculty and students staged a walkout in support.

This was a controversial event. However, doing the right thing even though there may be consequences is imperative for leaders.

This incident should not discourage any new student leaders from being activists on campus, or for that matter anyone. 

Not all forms of student activism have been unsuccessful or led to harsh consequences. For instance, the changing of the university seal was campaigned for by student activists. The seal originally depicted a cropped version of a painting that showed Father Marquette and Native Americans crossing the Mississippi. Because of the cropping it looked as though Father Marquette was guiding the Native Americans rather than the other way around. The original seal perpetuated harmful stereotypes about Indigenous peoples and thus, needed to be changed. Debate about changing the seal goes back to 2005. 

In July of 2020, Amanda Harris, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, began a petition to change the seal. Harris’ activism paid off in March of 2022 when the seal was officially changed. The new seal still honors Marquette’s Jesuit identity while also paying respect to the Indigenous communities of Milwaukee and greater Wisconsin.

In October 2020 students organized a sit-in in support of faculty. During the height of COVID-19 Marquette announced the possibility that between 200 and 450 faculty could be cut due to a budget deficit. The organization Students for MU Faculty held a sit-in at Zilber Hall to show solidarity. These students expressed their disappointment with the university and stressed the importance of faculty members at this institution. 

Marquette ended up having to only eliminate 39 positions, in part due to resolutions proposed by activists, faculty and staff. A major part of Jesuit education is caring for the whole person and contributing to the greater good. These students demonstrated this value perfectly when they chose to protest the possibility of hundreds of faculty members being cut.

Student activists have even been honored for their part in trying to improve the Marquette community. In May 2022, the first student cohort of Marquette’s Indigeneity Lab was given the 2022 Student Activist Award from the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. 

The Indigeneity Lab was created in Spring of 2021 and aims to support collaboration of undergraduates with native and non-native faculty on research projects focused on Indigenous topics. 

The students honored spent the summer of 2021 leading projects such as building a data visualization map of indigenous Milwaukee, studying the possible reintroduction of wild rice to the Menomonee river valley and doing research on Catholic Indian Boarding Schools.

Student activism is a powerful and transformative force for real change.

As members of student government MUSG members have a responsibility to use their platform to speak out about issues students are close to. MUSG is listened to by Marquette. They have the power and access to create change. The motto of Marquette is to “Be the Difference.” Protesting and standing up for what is right no matter the potential consequences is the only way students can effectively be the difference.

Candidates and members should not be frightened to be an activist on campus. Students want to elect people who will advocate for their concerns. We want to elect people who push for positive change. Change is rarely achieved without a fight of some sort. We, as students, need representatives who are willing to step up and speak out when something is wrong.

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, editor of Diversity and Inclusion and ten additional top editors across the organization.

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