Sanctions and Suppression

Personal and Confidential.

These are the bolded words on the subpoena from Marquette University charging me with two separate conduct violations.

For context, I am a senior at Marquette University majoring in Classical Languages and History. I graduate in a little over a month. Recently, Marquette University has announced a $45 million dollar budget shortfall and proposed that firing 200–450 faculty and staff positions will solve this fiscal catastrophe.

I have spent today reflecting on the day when undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff, and community members joined me at the sit-in at Zilber Hall to oppose proposed budget cuts that would disproportionately affect humanities departments and minority faculty and staff.

Members of university administration threatened us four times throughout our six hour peaceful sit-in. We honored their requests: do not block doors or business proceedings for the day and please be COVID safe.

Stephanie Quade, the Dean of Students, approached us and threatened students directly, saying campus police would get involved and we would be forced to hand over university identification. A little while later, her and other administrative representatives came downstairs with clipboards, demanding those present show our identification or risk “repercussions.”

No one gave their name or IDs because we had all forgotten them that day.

We finished the sit-in as we had intended, after confirming that we were not in violation of any university policy.

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At Zilber Hall (administrative building) holding a sign and a packet containing financial data about Marquette University.

Ten days pass and I wake up on a Saturday morning to a subpoena for two student conduct violations.

“1. Refusing to show or surrender a university identification upon request by a university employee acting in the performance of his/her duties.

2. Violating published policies and rules governing residence halls, student organizations or the university.”

I did not think my heart could break any more than it already had. I did not know I could feel such distrust, shame, and resentment as I do now. I am not ashamed for standing up for my rights.

As a woman with a disability, I know better than to yield to the current ableist and sexist patriarchal structure that is Marquette University’s administration.

My emotions stem from the administration’s gross intimidation tactics, most notably their blatant suppression of students’ first amendment rights and also their obvious disavowal of their commitment to appreciating student voices.

The following quotation was taken directly from Marquette University’s demonstration policy, effective February 13th, 2020: “The spirit of inquiry and challenge that the university seeks to encourage will produce many conflicts of ideas, opinions and proposals for action. The university community recognizes its responsibility to provide effective channels for internal communication, free discussion and rational persuasion as the normal and preferred means of airing and reconciling such differences. On occasion, recourse to public demonstration and protest may become a necessary and justified means of supporting a cause or position. In such cases, the university must seek to ensure a fair and reasonable balance and coordination between two values that are brought into conflict with one another. The first is the right of university community members to freely pursue their academic and vocational objectives without unreasonable obstruction or hindrance. The second is the right of university community members to freely communicate, by lawful demonstration and protest, the positions that they conscientiously espouse on vital issues of the day.”

It is abundantly clear that this subpoena and subsequent hearing is yet another intimidation tactic to smother my voice. The administration knows that undergraduate student support is essential to this university. If they cannot enact budget cuts and other changes without student reproach, they will force submission. They have done it to the faculty by threatening to fire individuals and cut departments and now they are doing it to the students.

Despite the despicable disregard for student voice, these student conduct violations are a demonstration of the systemic institutional racism that is pulsating through the administration’s veins.

Earlier this academic year, Marquette’s Black Student Council held a demonstration at Zilber Hall as well, demanding administrative commitment to diversity initiatives. Marquette’s Native American Student Association also held a demonstration that ended at Zilber Hall, demanding among other things that Marquette change its seal, which inaccurately portrays Jacques Marquette’s interactions with indigenous communities.

None of the students involved in these demonstrations received student conduct violations yet.

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Students at the sit-in, being COVID safe as I discuss financial information about Marquette university.

It is clear that Marquette administration feared retaliating against similar demonstrations because they do not want to appear to target students of color during a national movement for racial equality. Marquette clearly feared repercussions from sanctioning minority students when handling their demonstrations.

Many other students were present at the sit-in and did not present their university identification. No one else was sanctioned.

I am a little over one month from graduation, as they know, and they have targeted me and threatened my student status. Their attempt to silence me has failed utterly and they have thus resorted to engineered and unsound conduct violations.

The hearing is scheduled for November 5th 2020 at 11am. That is less than a week from now. Notifying me on the weekend, they have given me little time to prepare witnesses and seek legal counsel. Again, they are intentionally gatekeeping me from protecting myself.

I am entirely disheartened by Marquette University. I am a student with a disability that has significantly altered the way I live my life. Just as all students, I have the right to express my opinion. I, along with so many other students and members of the community, am a victim of Marquette’s attempt to preclude voicing dissent or disapproval.

I, and other students, will not stand idly by as the university implements measures that will decimate the value of and the livelihoods of those entrusted to uphold our Jesuit education.

In declaring the subpoena as personal and confidential, the administration only furthers their desire to suppress student voices and recognizes their own culpability in such an inhumane and unethical process of self-destruction.

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