THE SANTA CLARA
January 29, 2014
As a Chicano student, I am regularly one of the only minority students in my classes. I can count the number oof non-white professors whose classes I have taken on one hand. I have been questioned as to why I am majoring in English if I am Mexican. Talk to any minority student, and he or she will attest to equally unsettling experiences. Still, our conclusion will likely be: “That’s just how it is.”
Our response as Jesuit students to such treatment must be evaluated. Regardless of background or identification, we often feel apathetic to certain issues, as though they do not affect us. Or we think there is nothing we can do. Even worse, we believe they are the status quo.
Similarly, we often have no solution for the lack of diversity in most student organizations. We cannot seem to make amends with the wide separation between those who are white, Christian, heterosexual and affluent–and those who are not. And we are equally unable to formally address white students’ sentiments of exclusion from multicultural groups.
Many minority, female, LGBTQ, undocumented and otherwise marginalized students are also understandably frustrated because their voices are not heard. They are enraged because they are still subjugated by the greater community.
This says something about how we view our environment and how we feel powerless because of it. We are implicitly forfeiting our Jesuit education and throwing our hands up in frustration … but I think we are wrong.
Some may state that Santa Clara’s campus culture does not facilitate discussion of the aforementioned issues. They are mistaken. Our administration is not some oppressive regime, our professors are not sheltered in academia and our student population is not an angsty group of self-titled anarchists and trust-fund babies. These are hasty generalizations. We are people. Like everyone else, we become confused, unaware and afraid of breaking the norm occasionally.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (or the person immortalized by the statue you see passing Kenna Hall), professed that Jesuit education is based on “creative companionship with colleagues.” By constantly seeking to improve oneself and others around us through open discussion, greater enlightenment and connectivity to humanity can be found. That is Jesuit education.
Beginning with dialogue, we can address issues of privilege, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background, among other topics that divide us today. It is in our very nature as students here.
The Ignatian tradition is also committed to changing institutions from within and to continually promoting faith and justice. These ideals are meant to constantly affect humanity.
We must realize we are not in stagnation here, nor are we confined to antiquated beliefs that no longer pertain to our current society. These institutions are meant to recreate themselves to be useful tools for us. Therefore, we must not forget we are catalysts for that change.
If we want our voices to be heard, we should communally engage ourselves in the systems our school provides for us and facilitate discussion. Let’s work together and inform one another through these outlets. If these institutions do not work, let’s make them better. And when the need arises to create new ones for the world’s problems, let’s do that, too. That is Jesuit education.
Eduardo Cuevas is a junior English major.