Opinion: You're not marginalized if your views are supported by policy and administration
I am not going to respond to the entirety of the response to the response to the original article because that would just give everyone a headache and take things too far. However, I do want to address one line that really stood out to me. It was the line that referred to the Conservative students as a “truly marginalized group on campus.” I do not know exactly what the intentions behind this line were, but the emphasis on the word “truly” seems to imply that other groups are not “truly” marginalized on campus.
Merriam Webster (please note that I am citing a non-biased source here) defines “marginalize” as “to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position.” The conservative students have power on this campus. There have been numerous pro-life expressions on campus, but to even distribute information about pro-choice ideas is not permitted on campus. There is no access to contraception on campus, despite student requests, to name a few examples.
That article was not the first time that someone has told me that conservative students are marginalized on this campus. During the first semester, when the pro-life group set up a vigil to the “souls lost to abortion,” I spoke to a professor about how I was uncomfortable with such a biased display. I am a believer in the importance of conversation (which is one of the reasons I am even writing this) but the pro-life displays proudly only present one side of the story, while stifling the voices from the other side. The professor told me that the pro-life students were more marginalized because the liberal students tended to talk back to them. To publicly display controversial political views, you have to be prepared to discuss with those who disagree with you. This goes for any political party. The pro-life students have the power of the administration supporting them and their demonstrations. That is not marginalization.
If you want to talk about marginalization, let’s talk about marginalization. Let’s talk about how on the thirteen person “President’s Leadership Cabinet” only three members are women. Let’s talk about how the statement “In order for a club to be recognized as an official student club, the club’s purpose must be compatible with the University’s mission and Roman Catholic identity” is only used to silence clubs with pro-choice identities, and not groups like the Jewish Student Union which is directly incompatible with the Roman Catholic Identity. (Please note that I am not saying that the Jewish Student Union should not be allowed to exist, I am just pointing out the hypocrisy of this code of conduct that is only enforced when deemed convenient.)
How are women and minorities supposed to feel empowered at a university where the presidents have historically been white men? Women who are unable to ever be president are automatically relegated to a position of lesser power (i.e. marginalized). It was claimed that “something that is not inclusive is not inherently exclusive by design or intention” but when it is impossible for a woman to ever reach the highest position of power, regardless of her qualifications, it feels pretty exclusionary.
Before I committed to UP, I was reassured countless times that I would barely even notice the religious influence. I was told that it was nothing more than a cross in every classroom. I realize now that this claim always came from people who had grown up with religious backgrounds and were somewhat desensitized to how religious UP really is. I grew up non-religious, so I experienced some culture shock once I was actually began attending. The welcome speech (which involved lots of prayer) over orientation weekend made me feel less than welcome. The school recognizes that less than half of their students identify as Catholic (39 percent of this year’s freshman to be more specific) but they still force all students to comply with Catholic values.
This relates to the claim made in the article was that students have no right to complain about the effect of the affiliations with the Holy Cross because as a private school it has legal and religious rights to restrict organizations on campus. This may be true, but one caveat is the fact that many students don’t realize the extreme effects of the affiliation until they are actual students, because the university markets itself as more liberal than it actually is. This is where many issues arise. Liberal students feel let down by the actions of the university that fail to match their claims of inclusion and diversity, and conservative students are off put by claims of political correctness and other buzz-words. This is unfair to both groups, because both groups have been misled by either the claims or actions of the university.
I don’t want this to turn into a contest of “who’s more marginalized?” because I am not disagreeing that some conservative students may be afraid to speak up in class. That being said, we have to make sure we are using the correct definition of marginalization if we want to talk about how it affects students at UP. In order to truly talk about marginalization, we need to look at the context of the entire campus.
Emma Hinke is a UP student and can be reached at email@example.com.