The Real Issue At Hand
Alexander Geragotelis, Staff Writer
The issue is not the administration’s stance, it is their lack of leadership.
By now, almost everyone at Assumption is aware of the current tension between the administration and most of the student body. Since the Monday October 19th Daily FYI For Students Email, which contained a letter from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that stated gay marriage was “intrinsically evil”, along with war crimes and genocide, there has been unprecedented protests on campus and push back against the administration. I personally have been surprised by this and the events since last Monday. I recognize that if Assumption wishes to be a catholic institution there are certain ideologies it must have, including the official church stance on gay marriage. But there is a difference between quietly holding the belief that gay marriage is wrong because you must, and sending students a document comparing gay marriage to warcrimes unprompted. Since last Monday, I have also been surprised by how this issue has charged up the student body like nothing else has, and the silence from the administration.
When an Assumption student describes the student body, they often discuss its tight knit nature. With most class years containing between 400-600 students, over the course of four years it is easy to become acquainted with most of your class year. Assumption students have a reputation for being friendly and holding doors for others, but this past week is the first time I have seen people banding together. Most students shared the various petitions and letters on social media, and dozens showed up to chalk supportive messages around campus. A variety of clubs and campus organizations have made statements condemning the homophobic remarks sent to students, and it seems like there is near universal agreement that the administration is in the wrong, and owes the students an apology. This has all been a very pleasant surprise. Given Assumption’s small LGBTQ community, the majority of the activism has been done by allies, a sign that the Assumption Community is more than just a concept. As someone who has been openly gay since before I came to Assumption, during my time here I have felt safe and supported by my peers. But to see the student body collectively take a stand has been inspiring because it shows that people really are willing to be allies and stand up for one another. It is a sign that the messages shared to students last Monday are objectively wrong, and amends need to be made.
I have also been surprised by the lack of response from the administration. Since the 200 word email sent last Tuesday night, which only contained the term “LGBTQ” once, there has been no official comment from the school. During this silence, the petition and letter have both gained hundreds more signatures, multiple local news stations have picked up the story, and students have continued to organize. Even before I came to Assumption, I had heard about the accessibility of the administration, and during my time here I had seen it as well. Students regularly run into the administration around campus and talk to them, and (during nonCOVID times) President Cesareo visits the dorms to answer student questions every other year. Given how the school has prided itself on open communication between students and administration, I am very surprised by the lack of response. Regardless of if the school recognizes it is in the wrong or not, shouldn’t it address a petition with 3,000 signatures? Or respond to the 100+ alumni who have decided to withhold donations until an apology is issued? All of this bad press with no response is bad press in itself. For an institution trying to increase enrollment it seems that the administration is failing to recognize that the queer community and its allies is a demographic that probably does not want to attend a University that publishes material comparing gay marriage to war crimes. Regardless of what the official church stance is, the vast majority of college age adults in America support gay marriage, so for Assumption to go out of its way and say it disagrees is only hurting itself.