Response to Prof. James Wilson & Prof. Colleen Sheehan’s Commentary in 3/29 WSJ

By: Billie Murray, Dept. of Communication

As members of the Villanova University community, we offer this response to the above referenced commentary. Although the opinion piece uses a universal “we” throughout, the authors’ opinions do not represent the views of all members of the Villanova community, including, but not necessarily limited to, the undersigned below. We offer this response specifically to our students as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to Villanova’s mission to seek truth, unity, and love and as an invitation to continue conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community.

 As members of the Villanova community, we believe that ensuring that students have an educational environment free of racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ sentiments, ableism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of discrimination is essential to providing students with a liberal arts education—in fact, this is the core of a liberal education that seeks to educate the “whole person.” Thus, we believe that it is our responsibility to foster classroom environments that welcome all students regardless of individual differences or social identities. And when we fail at these efforts, we need to hear from our students through their evaluations, to help us learn and do better. We do not, however, foster environments free of difference or argument or political ideologies; such a task is impossible and antithetical to our mission as educators.

 As members of the Villanova community, we believe that fostering environments that take seriously the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential for exploring differences based in ideas and for including students who historically (and contemporarily) have not had their ideas heard by virtue of their social identities. Creating such an environment is essential to everyone’s educational experience, faculty, staff, students, and administrators alike. Creating a rhetoric that portrays these efforts as silencing or as a “mole hunt” is disingenuous at best and destructive at worst, as it seeks to further silence those students who want Villanova to continue to be a place where all social identities are celebrated.

 As members of the Villanova community, we believe that charges of “insensitivity, injustice, and bigotry” should absolutely be taken seriously and critically evaluated. A commitment to understanding, justice, and celebration of difference is not equal to “ideological policing.” It is equal to challenging the discriminatory practices that have no place in education or any work or learning environment. Moreover, it demonstrates the value we all have as members of our intellectual and social communities.

 As members of the Villanova community, we do not seek to indoctrinate students into a “progressive political opinion on bias and identity.” Such an assumption is insulting to our students who are adults, who are capable of critical thinking, of making their own decisions, and of respectfully engaging in the critical work of questioning and learning from each other and from the wealth of diverse knowledge surrounding them on our campus.

 As members of the Villanova community, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts that seek to bring us together as a human family. Such efforts help Villanova move ever closer to its mission based in Catholic Social Teaching—teachings that tell us to respond to the signs of the times and the challenges of the modern world by promoting ethical values and the attainment of the common good.

Signed, Billie Murray, Bryan Crable, Rory Kramer, Jared Bishop, Glenn E. Bracey, II, Tim Horner,  Shauna M. MacDonald, Derek Arnold, Yannik Thiem,  Hibba Abugideiri, Timothy McCall, Cristina Soriano, Krista Malott,  Catherine Kerrison, Emory Woodard,  Rachel Skrlac Lo,  Jean Lutes, Julie Klein, Raul Diego Rivera Hernez, Barbora Diego Rivera Prihodova, Paul Steege, Heidi Rose, Rick Eckstein,  Karyn Hollis, Cameron G. Quevedo,  Dron M. Mhana,   Bill Cowen,   Elizabeth Kolsky, Farshid Baghai,  Judith Giesberg, Lynne Hartnett,  Gabriel Rockhill,  Paul Rosier, Craig Bailey, John Carvalho, Mark Sullivan, Agnese Codebò,    Brianna Remster, Teresa M. Boyer, Lisa Sewell, Teresa Nance, François Massonnat, Kate Meloney,  Megan Quigley,  Mary Mullen,   Travis M. Foster, Yumi Lee, Alan Drew, Etienne Achille, Noelle Comolli, Jaime Omar Salinas, Rebecca Lynn Winer, Joseph Drury, Catherine Staples,  Cristina Percoco, Raka Shome, Edward García Fierros, Elysha S Chang,   Kamran Javadizadeh, Jerusha Conner, Jody Ross,   Jill McCorkel, Barbara Romaine, Tsering Wangmo, Rachel Smith, Jennifer A. Joyce, Catherine Warrick,  Allison Ann Payne,     Ellen Bonds, Lau Sez, Melissa Hodges,   Rena Potok, Chara Armon, Sheryl Bowen, Eric Lomazf, Narda Quigley, Quinetta Roberson, Jonathan Doh, Brian Jones, Peleg Kremer, Justinus Satrio,  Mysha Clarke, Ruth Bienstock Anolik, Jennifer Dixon, Marylu Hill, Tom Ksiazek, Barry Selinsky, Meredith Bergey, Gordon Coonfield, Maghan Keita, Juanita Weaver,   Bridget Wadzuk, Hezekiah Lewis, Steven Goldsmith, Kelly Welch, Evan Radcliffe,  and Lauren Shohet   

Note: The above were the faculty who signed the letter as  April 2 at 5 p.m.