Alumni was an advocate, ally, leader
October 26, 2017
Recent university graduate Jay Bassett passed away on Oct. 12, 2017. Originally from Los Gatos, Jay majored in business management with a minor in women’s and gender studies (WGST) and was active in ROTC and the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
“Let us also remember the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized communities that have lost an advocate in Jay,” University President Michael Engh, S.J. said in a campus-wide email. “Jay was passionate about ensuring the dignity of our LGBTQ+ members, generously supported the Rainbow Resource Center as a student leader, and co-founded a campus chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
A commendation in the name of Bassett was presented to the Associated Student Government (ASG) Senate during their week five meeting by Vice President Sam Pérez and ASG Associate Justice Grace Zimmerman. Bassett was commended for their work at the Rainbow Resource Center and their commitment to the LBGTQ community.
An example of such is how Bassett was instrumental in the inception of a LGBTQ+ Endowed Scholarship Fund established earlier this summer. The fund will be continually supported by the university and donations. The fund is intended to provide financial support for projects to those with financial need in the LGBTQ+ community interested in pursuing an education at Santa Clara.
“Jay had so much passion, intention and meaning behind everything they said and did,” said assistant director of Student and Young Alumni Giving Frankie Bastone. “On the Day of Giving this past March, Jay gave back supporting LGBTQ+ students at Santa Clara. Although the LGBTQ+ Endowed Scholarship was not 100 percent in creation yet, Jay gave to the Rainbow Resource Center Fund for Inclusivity. Over the summer the Endowed Scholarship came into existence and the first person I wanted to share the news with was Jay, who was so passionate and close to its progress.”
Bassett also served as a delegation from Santa Clara at the IgnationQ Conference in 2015 hosted by Georgetown University.
Not only was Bassett an LGBTQ+ advocate, but also a fierce ally on a wide range of other issues spanning racial and gender justice, both within the Santa Clara community and beyond.
“Jay consistently offered a powerful voice and perspective within these learning spaces,” said an email sent from the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) department to current students and alumni. The department plans to organize a future gathering to “celebrate Jay’s life and invaluable contributions” to the WGST community.
“Jay was really bright and creative. They were an advocate for lots of people and definitely a feminist. In class and out, they wanted to understand things about diversity and equality for people,” said Linda Garber, associate professor and WGST department chair.
WGST assistant professor Sonja Mackenzie never had Bassett as a student, but said she got to know them through involvement in the LGBTQ+ ad-hoc task force comprised of faculty, staff and students formed in response to acts of discrimination on campus last fall.
“Jay was a real leader in bringing people together always and making sure that student voices were present,” Mackenzie said. “Jay brought this incredible spark and energy for building community, recognizing issues and acting on them in a way that did so much for so many people on campus.”
Bassett was also a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities; Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society serving AACSB International accredited business programs and Iota Iota Iota, a national women’s studies honor society.
They were on the Dean’s List, a member of the Santa Clara Honors Program, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, a Peer Health Educator as well as a Peer Facilitator through the Office of Multicultural Learning.
A candlelight vigil was held in Bassett’s memory on Oct. 15 in front of the Mission Church, followed by the 9 p.m. Sunday liturgy.
Bassett was also active in the marching band and drama program at Leigh High School, where they graduated in 2013. Bassett also earned the rank of Eagle Scout within the Boy Scouts of America.
Bassett is survived by their parents, Kathy and Scott, and sisters Katie and Wendy.
A memorial service is being planned by the family in early November and is working with the university on a foundation in Bassett’s name for mental health services on campus.
Contact Erin Fox at efox@ scu.edu or call (408) 554- 4852.