Remnants of snow still remained from the passing storm, but that didn’t stop more than 150 students from gathering on the front steps of Franz to protest Fr. Dan Parrish’s residency in Lund Family Hall due to what many students are calling homophobic and transphobic remarks.
Despite Parrish’s email announcing that he will move out of Lund through the end of the school year, students still gathered to call for his full removal and discuss the wider implications of his actions at UP.
“They know that this has been an issue for a long time and to choose to do something very publicly about it three hours before students are supposed to protest does kind of suggest an agenda in that move,” Senior Grace Fortson said.
The event was primarily organized by President of Gender and Sexuality Partnership (GSP) August Stone and Spiritual Connections Director for GSP Beth Chvilicek.
“We had tried the town hall meetings, we had tried the conversations in Lund and it was getting silence in a way that we didn't like,” Stone said. “So we just kind of wanted to control the narrative for once.”
At the protest, organizers offered the floor for students and community members to share testimonies of their experiences. Queer identifying students and LGBTQ+ allies spoke of support for the protest as well as the discomfort Parrish and Lund hall staff have caused them.
“I’m not a resident in Lund, but I am still hurting,” Stone said during the testimonies.
The Lund Hall resident assistants took to the floor to express their pain caused by Parrish and the Lund Hall Director Brittani Klindworth. They spoke to the group about being an all queer RA staff and called for the removal of Parrish and Klindworth from the hall.
Students from across residence halls and off campus students spoke of the harm Parrish’s words and actions have caused, even outside of the Lund Hall community, and even more stood amongst the crowd in support.
“It's important to a showcase the queer and trans joy that does exist on campus and to make sure that we're calling out when injustice has happened, which is what we're doing today,” Chvilicek said.
Jenron Yee, a sophomore and resident of Schoenfeldt Hall, stood in the front row, listening to the testimonies of his peers. Despite not being a resident of Lund, Yee was deeply affected by Parrish’s words and actions.
“[Parrish and Klindworth] have made my Catholic trauma arise again,” Yee said. “I went through the same stuff in high school. It sucks that admin people repeatedly tell you to de-queer yourself or become more heteronormative, how do you change something that's part of your identity? They attack parts of you that are inherently you, and it sucks.”
Parrish declined to comment on the protest, saying in an email to The Beacon: “Given how personal this situation is, however, I think it is best if I decline comment.”
Despite Parrish’s email earlier in the day announcing his departure from Lund for the rest of the semester, many students still believe that Parrish needs to be removed indefinitely.
“Students today are really calling for that to be more permanent,” Fortson said. “They don't want him out of Lund for the next 20 days, they want them out of Lund permanently. They don't think he's fit to be a mental health resource or to serve as guidance, especially in such close proximity to queer students.”
The Beacon reached out to the Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Jim Gallager but did not receive a comment on Parrish or the protest in response.
“I also think this was a celebration of queer and trans joy, which is really important to recognize. I just think that we need to keep our spirits up and keep staying strong,” Chvilicek said.
Kate Cuadrado is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.