The last three weeks have taught us more than many of us have ever learned within our MRC classrooms. We have imagined collectively about liberatory education, engaged in dialogues with students inside and out of MRC, learned from/with the support of so many incredible artists, community organizers, activists, and leaders, including many generations of SU and Matteo Ricci College alumni, the SPU Justice Coalition, Decolonize UW, MEChA UW Bothell, Aaron Dixon and the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party, El Centro De La Raza, Southern Poverty Law Center, Maria Hamilton of Mothers United for Justice, and so many more. We have built unbreakable ties with our communities grounded in decades of intersectional organizing and activism across this city and country. Through honest reflection and critical analysis, we recognize that on-campus organizing can be polarizing and creates tension within our community– and yet, we remain unapologetic, firm and strong in our demands. We uphold that the demands we are making are essential for a just and humane education and campus.
One of the lessons that has been hardest to stomach is this: the administration has a toxic sense of complacency and profound unwillingness to confront injustice. Throughout our occupation, countless alumni, professors, and current students have come forward with their stories involving discrimination, hostile learning environments, sexual harassment, and threatening interactions with people in positions of power. Student emails have proved that instances of corrupt climate and curricula were reported to professors, advisors, and members of the university’s administration as early as 2007. Sometimes discrimination charges were filed, often they were not. Professors and administrators were confronted, and yet nothing changed. Demands were drafted, delivered, and have not been engaged.
We have uncovered and witnessed a culture and climate that is flawed from its very roots. Members of the Coalition maintain that if a learning environment is harmful for even one person, it is detrimental to us all.
We are truly horrified and appalled at the level of denial and the enforcement of the status quo that plagues our entire administration. Not only have we been reprimanded for using terms like ‘racist’ to describe actions and practices apparent within the Matteo Ricci College, but we have been told repeatedly to “engage the formal processes” in order to resolve these issues.
These institutional practices have been engaged, pursued, and ultimately, found to be completely ineffective. The Coalition is disgusted by the administration’s lack of willingness to take responsibility for creating and upholding failed systems of justice.
We maintain that Dean Jodi Kelly, as has been proven time and time again, is utterly incompetent and incapable of being the leader that this college needs for 2016 and beyond. At a more basic level, we know that Dean Kelly is a product of a dysfunctional system that prioritizes protecting itself and those who are complicit within.
We urge Seattle University as a whole to thoroughly reconsider, imagine, and re-envision what it means to practice a just and humane campus.
In resistance and solidarity,
THE MRC STUDENT COALITION
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