(Photo: Jason Freedman)
In 2015 students saw the defunding of the Diversity Office at Regis. Resources for international students and students from diverse backgrounds were not seen as a priority. Since then students have fought tooth and nail for change and have seen very little. With the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence Office reinstated and one extra professional hired, they are overworked and underfunded. Not to mention the diversity office, a crucial part of student life at any legitimate University, has been moved from the student center to the fitness center. The office currently supports LGBTQ, international, students of color, students who are veterans, and creates programming essential to our calling as a Jesuit institution.
Regis students are black, brown and white, Muslim, Christian and atheist, women, men and genderqueer. But the Regis narrative is historically written by white, Catholic, straight men. Everyday Regis students are on campus, some are finding community and some are being marginalized. As Americans, we are all called to treat people with dignity regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. As Jesuit educated students we are called to stand with vulnerable communities, and not only expand our notion of community but actually shift the dominant narrative to center voices on the margins. Students of color, LGBTQ students, immigrant students, and their allies have led campus initiatives that bring attention to the most important social issues of our time, and ultimately work to write their own stories into the center of Regis history. Keep in mind, this is not to be conflated with the popular phrase “all lives matter,” which cannot be detached from its contemporary political context that functions to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement and divert attention from the voices of marginalized people.
These dialogues give issues of race and inclusivity center stage, as we seek to name and dismantle the oppression in our own communities. While “safe spaces” can be productive in their own ways they will never produce the goal of a free and just community that we all desire--where individuals are free to express themselves, develop their strengths, and flourish to the best of their natural ability. In a divided world we are called to take a stand, and if we are silent or inactive on issues that matter then we have chosen the side of the oppressor. Our University recruits the student body based on the idea that diversity makes us stronger, so we must provide students institutional support once they arrive.
President Father John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J. explicitly upholds in his “Invocation Delivered at Denver’s State of the City Address July 11, 2016” that Regis University affirms that “Black Lives Matter.” And the the President, along with presidents from 28 other Jesuit colleges, signed onto a letter expressing solidarity with undocumented students and students of diverse faiths:
We see our work of teaching, scholarship and the formation of minds and spirits as a sacred trust. That trust prompts us to labor for solidarity among all people, and especially with and for the poor and marginalized of our society. That trust calls us to embrace the entire human family, regardless of their immigration status or religious allegiance. And experience has shown us that our communities are immeasurably enriched by the presence, intelligence, and committed contributions of undocumented students, as well as of faculty and staff of every color and from every faith tradition.
Students from diverse marginalized backgrounds belong in our community, and more than that they deserve to have a voice in the creation of a campus that serves the needs of every student. Regis individuals have worked tirelessly to influence the culture at Regis, to expand our experience of community beyond the traditional Anglo-Christian mindset, and now we would like to see our institutional powers step into greater moral leadership. You can come to the talks scheduled on campus to learn more about the experience of students on campus. Administration pledges to attend these conversations, and listen to students about how they can better serve you. We want your voice!
For infomration about the converstation dates, click here!
Jack Flotte Director of Social Justice and Spirituality Committee