The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Don’t be afraid to engage

Jesuit values in a changing political environment

Specific phrases that are part of our Jesuit mission here at St. Joe’s stick in our minds, some so well that we can repeat them verbatim; “with and for others,” “finding God in all things,” to name a few. We are reminded of them on the walls of Campion, on retreats, in our general education curriculum, and in the tight-knit, supportive nature of our community here on Hawk Hill.

That is fitting, of course; we are a Jesuit university, and all aspects of our campus life are deeply informed by our Jesuit mission and values. Over the past year, students have taken to the streets in displays of activist support for causes such as women’s rights (the Women’s March) and gun control (the March for Our Lives).

As a university, we have started to become more focused on political engagement, hosting a historic talk by Congressman John Lewis, who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King’s closest allies in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and a lecture from former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been an outspoken advocate for federal initiatives such as the It’s On Us campaign to eliminate sexual assault on college campuses.

As St. Joe’s continues to expand, it seems fitting that we evaluate how we are evolving as an institution with respect to both our academic programs and our Jesuit values, as well as the intersection of the two. Jesuit values and activism do not have to be mutually exclusive, but can inform one another.

As students at a Jesuit university, we do not have to be afraid of engaging With in activist causes. Students are mobilizing in support of causes all over the country, and as Congress begins to weigh more and more issues that affect college students and young people, such as gun control legislation, protocol for how colleges handle allegations of sexual assault, and laws which govern federal student aid.

These are causes that affect all of us; we do not have to be afraid of campaigning on behalf of them, regardless of which political party we typically associate with them.

Over the past year, university President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., sent several emails out to the St. Joe’s community in response to ongoing events that potentially affected members of our student body. These events ranged from the Sept. 2017 executive order calling for the elimination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, which targeted Latino members of the LGBTQ community.

Reed’s statements linked our Jesuit mission with our collective commitment to progress causes that support all members of the St. Joe’s student body, writing in one statement that “as Jesuit, Catholic institution, it is our responsibility to defend and advocate for the dignity of all human beings,” and asking that we “continue to be vigilant to the marginalized within our community.” 

These statements can serve as models for how we as a community can continue to advance the founding mission of St. Joe’s as a Jesuit university.

“With and for others,” one of the most essential pieces of our mission statement, directly ties into causes that we have seen students campaign on behalf of this year.

“Cura personalis” focuses on the whole person; all aspects of someone’s identity.

Even someone uninterested in politics can utilize their commitment to Jesuit values to progress a cause that affects their classmates and other members of our campus community. Politics is a complicated, loaded notion with all sorts of connotations, most of which are negative.

However, we do not need to shy away from engaging in causes that we care about just because they are affected by political discourse and legislation. Partisanship may not have a place in how we advocate for one another and support one another at St. Joe’s, but activism is vital to the continuance of the Jesuit mission.

—The Hawk Staff

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