THE SANTA CLARA
May 22, 2014
We bring inspiring leaders like Dolores Huerta, Paul Farmer and the Dalai Lama to campus to speak about compassion worldwide, but I see something of a double standard when we neglect issues of social justice on our own campus.
We are truly blessed to have so many opportunities for community engagement that allow us to transcend the campus “bubble,” empowering us to become leaders in the Santa Clara community and beyond.
However, such valuable lessons do not give Santa Clara a free pass to exercise injustices. As a result of this, my final academic year at Santa Clara has been challenging for me as a student striving to embody the Jesuit values instilled in me by the school I love and have called home these past four years.
Fall quarter, the administration made the unilateral decision to remove elective abortion coverage for faculty and staff. There was no dialogue surrounding this highly patriarchal decision, despite widespread disapproval from faculty, staff and students alike.
As Fossil Free SCU’s campaign for the university to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies gathers support, the administration refuses to disclose the university’s current investments, let alone address the potential for divestment, while our academic “rivals” at Stanford take groundbreaking steps in this arena.
I am continually struck by the irony that our institution of higher learning, founded on the anti-material values of the Jesuits, remains irrevocably influenced by heavily moneyed interests.
Perhaps we are not the beacon of compassion, tolerance and virtue we claim to be if we remain apathetic to the voices of our students, faculty and staff, while continuing to fear transformation and progress.
While I am indebted to Santa Clara for everything I have learned here, for the values that have been instilled in me and for the empowered individual I have grown to be, there’s always more work to be done.
This is a genuine thank you to Santa Clara for challenging me and my fellow classmates to be the agents of change we are today. Thanks to you, we are engaged and we are thoughtful. We are competent and we are reflective. We are passionate and we are compassionate. Now allow us to be the leaders you hope for us to be.
Zachary Milkis is a senior English and political science double major.