The following comes from a January 7 Cardinal Newman Society Catholic Education Daily article by Adam Cassandra:
Responding to a list of “demands” by student groups focused on racial and LGBTQ issues, a University of San Diego (USD) official told The Cardinal Newman Society there are items on the list “that are inconsistent with our Catholic identity,” and that such proposals would be vetted through a process of working with students to initiate change “in a constructive and respectful fashion.”
Marlow told the Newman Society that the newly installed University president, Dr. James Harris, who began his tenure this past August, recently met with four of the students involved with publishing the demands “to help steer them toward submitting their ideas via the strategic planning process” currently underway at the University. The process, scheduled for completion by early fall, is collecting “ideas for the future” from USD student groups, faculty, alumni, administrators, trustees, community members and other friends of USD.
The list of 22 demands made by “concerned students” focuses mainly on racial issues “in solidarity with the Black student activists of [University of Missouri],” and a similar list of demands by USD students appears on the website of the Black Liberation Collective. But there are also several LGBT and gender identity issues listed among the demands, including calls to have:
-The installation of gender-neutral bathrooms in every building on campus.
-The development of a Gender and Queer Studies department with at least 12 full-time faculty.
-More people of color, queer-identified people and women represented in positions of administrative and student leadership.
-The active inclusion of cultural, LGBT and feminist student organizations in the planning of campus events related to the concerns of these organizations.
-The creation of a comprehensive orientation on racial, gender, and queer inclusion and diversity, mandatory to students, staff, faculty and administration.
-An increase in resources and support groups for queer and trans students of color.
The Newman Society asked Marlow if he could identify the items on the list of student demands that are inconsistent with the University’s Catholic identity. He responded saying “there is not one fixed list of demands” as of yet, and a “more constructive/thoughtful list” could be presented to Harris by the students later this month after they return from break.
One of the demands highlighted in a report by The College Fix was that the University change the name of Serra Hall after the administration acknowledged “the colonialist legacy” of Saint Junípero Serra, who according to the students “massacred the vast majority of native peoples in California.”
“The University is not going to change the name of Serra Hall based on the rationale presented” by the students, Marlow told the Newman Society. He added that Harris sees the entire situation as “a teaching moment for the students.”
“Dr. Harris prefers to meet face-to-face with students and explain how best to go about initiating change in a constructive and respectful fashion,” said Marlow. “He wants to advise them how to channel their energy in ways that appeal to broad audiences and to understand the trade-offs that would have to be made with various ideas, and most importantly, to understand how to approach these topics at a Catholic University and within the context of Catholic intellectual tradition, which has always encouraged, embraced and debated the diversity of ideas.”
Charles LiMandri, founder of the group Alumni for a Catholic USD, told the Newman Society that the nature of the students’ demands “are probably reflective of much of what they’re being taught by a secular and anti-Catholic faculty.”
“There are so many secular faculty there now and people hostile towards the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church,” he said. LiMandri, who used to run USD’s alumni program, has been critical of the University’s commitment to defending its Catholic identity in recent years, calling specific attention to an annual “drag queen show” sponsored by USD since 2012.