An Open Letter to the Marquette University Faculty and Staff

I am drowning in apathy so much so that I cannot even force myself to work. My days drag on and are filled with existential dread. My nights are riddled with nightmares and, when I do wake up, I am unable to move or speak for a prolonged period of time. My mind and body are overflowing with anxiety to the point that I literally am frozen.

From what I have seen and heard, many of you are experiencing similar emotions. I don’t even feel as though “emotions” is even the right word… perhaps something more targeted: perturbation, tumult, or lethargy.

I cannot say that I sympathize because I am not at risk for losing my job, figuring out how I will feed my children, teaching and researching. But I can empathize. I do know what it feels like to be abandoned by the university you trusted as well as many friends who supported you right up until you colored outside of the lines.

I am beyond grateful for those who have stood with me this past month. I have nothing but love in my heart for those individuals.

But nonetheless, it sometimes feels as if I bear this weight alone. My brain switches into Classicist mode and I am reminded of Atlas, forced to hold up the weight of the world… alone.

When I was a freshman, I was so proud to attend Marquette University. I was excited to be involved in a community that valued one another and dedicated itself to preserving its Jesuit values. Recently, I have said and written much recently concerning Marquette’s abandonment of Jesuit principles and their administrative problems. These issues are very real and palpable on campus every day.

The weight of these troubles is, unfortunately, the easiest burden. The harder quandaries to grasp are the emotions and realizations that result from acknowledging and confronting these problems.

I am ashamed to attend Marquette University. Perhaps this is the biggest gut-punch of my collegiate career. My university, which ostensibly touts that it values and engages with student opinion, sanctioned me with arbitrary conduct violations five weeks before I graduate. Five weeks.

While the university I pay to attend attempts to force me into suppression and silence, I try extraordinarily hard to have the desire to continue my studies. So often, I find myself falling short of any and all academic and personal goals I have set for myself this semester. For too many nights, I have stayed up wishing so badly to just give up. During the day, I work exceptionally hard to push those feelings out of my mind and drown my aching, tired spirit in caffeine.

This is not how I wanted to finish college. This is not how I am as a student, scholar, or human being.

My parents, who have loved Marquette forever, are experiencing similar feelings of resentment and aggravation. My mother often calls me crying. My father vituperates and shakes his head.

I open the deepest of my pains to you, those who may be experiencing similar troubles. Many people have told me to take care of myself, to take a step back, to focus on school. But the reality is that I cannot do any of those things without staying in this fight no matter how exhausting and depressing it is.

I cannot and will not back down. Marquette’s faculty and staff shaped and changed me to my core. They instilled Jesuit values in and out of the classroom. They fought for me and my future and I fight for them now.

It is academic filial piety in the most fervent and ferocious denotation of the phrase.

I do not struggle because of the fight. I struggle because the university I paid to attend has come close to breaking me. But it is with the help and support of my family, friends, professors, staff, and community members that I stand.

It is clear in your faces when you walk into or log onto lecture. You are exhausted… from whatever you are going through at the moment. I understand the anger, disillusionment, apathy, resentment.

My parents gave me the middle name Faith. They waited what seemed like an eternity before they were able to adopt me and they jumped through so many hoops just to hold me in their arms. When I find myself in the midst of raw and unyielding emotions and anxiety, I remember why I am who I am. I remember what my name means and what I mean to everyone I love.

You may feel alone, and that’s okay. Because I often do, too. When I am reminded of who you taught me to be, I rise. I carry what seems to be the burden of Atlas himself so that I may continue on. So that I may affect change. Or even so that I can have more coffee. Regardless, I endure.

As a Classicist, I finish with this: ad astra per aspera.

To the stars, through the struggles.

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