Letter to the Editor: Campus groups must work together

Letter to the Editor: Campus groups must work together

Letter to the Editor: Campus groups must work together

Transformation Executive Board of Black Cultural Society Executive Board of No Lost Generation Leadership Executive Board of Villanova Feminist Society VU Pride Steering Committee

This letter is a direct response to the mission statement published in The Villanovan by the executive board of Villanova’s College Republicans. We represent the leadership of Association for Change and Transformation, Black Cultural Society, No Lost Generation, VU Pride, and Villanova Feminism Society. We represent groups who have, historically, been denied a place in institutions of higher learning and a platform from which to speak.

It is our opinion that the letter published by College Republicans reveals a fundamental failure to understand the causes that our organizations work tirelessly to address. We understand the fear of being powerless and voiceless. Our own social history has given us a profound sense of empathy with groups experiencing such exclusion. However, we vehemently disagree that the explicit inclusion of marginalized racial, religious, ethnic, gender and social groups in political and educational discourse is something to be resisted or feared. 

The College Republicans’ letter discussed the need to create a space for conservative voices on campus so that the ideals which the organization purports to champion can be preserved. We acknowledge the right of all people to have a voice at our University, and we actively encourage dialogue within and between our organizations.

That being said, we cannot allow the statements made by College Republicans to go unchallenged when those statements run directly counter to the values and experiences on which Association for Change and Transformation, Black Cultural Society, No Lost Generation, VU Pride and Villanova Feminism Society were founded. The letter addressed the need for an environment in which opinions may be expressed “vigorously without fear of intimidation.” As Villanovans with a firm and demonstrated belief in the power of dialogue, we stand in support of such freedoms. However, once speech vigorously expressed becomes the source of fear and a vehicle for intimidation, it becomes our duty to express our opposition.

College Republicans state that their “liberties, [their] capitalist system, [their] American way of life, [their] Judeo-Christian values, [their] Republican candidates, [their] Constitution and [their] president” are under attack. They suggest that the “pervasive trend of moral relativism” has corrupted those ideals for which the United States, “the greatest country on Earth,” once stood.

On this account, we disagree. 

The ideals put forth by College Republicans may have their value. However, it is both ahistorical and disingenuous to ignore the fact that these ideals have resulted in the exclusion and discrimination of a great number of people over the course of the United State’s existence. 

Our nation claims to be one of equality and justice, yet there is injustice being done to its members to this day. This injustice manifests as physical violence, as systemic inequality, as a pervasive sense of alienation. And what’s more, it occurs disproportionately to those groups excluded from those Republican values that have been thought to define the United States since its inception.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, classism and xenophobia exist in very real and harmful ways across the country, and they must not be overlooked. They also exist on Villanova’s campus. Since the start of this semester two weeks ago, there have been numerous incidents of violence reported to Villanova faculty and staff. These are not individual instances. They are not anomalies. They are indicators of a larger pattern of hate and intolerance that we as a university cannot allow to continue.  We ask: Where is the outrage? Where is the call to preserve the rights and liberties of these students who have been attacked? 

We are not advocating for uniformity of opinion or calling for silence from conservative voices on campus—quite the opposite, in fact. Villanova is an institute of higher learning that “welcomes and respects members of all faiths who seek to nurture a concern for the common good and who share an enthusiasm for the challenge of responsible and productive citizenship in order to build a just and peaceful world.” 

In seeking to further this mission, we must have a diversity of opinion. We must engage in dialogue, we must hear all voices, and we must encourage all members of the Villanova community to take part. Such engagement fosters intellectually rich conversations and helps us grow as scholars and as people. However, we cannot engage in this dialogue successfully if we are not committed to preserving the dignity and well being of all persons. 

There was a time when this University and this country were places for white, property-owning, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian men. That this has changed is not an indicator of moral relativism and the decay of American values. Instead, it is proof that through the hard work of groups like ours, through the determination of marginalized groups and the support of allies, it is possible to make these communities better for everyone.

In this light, Association for Change and Transformation, Black Cultural Society, No Lost Generation, VU Pride and Villanova Feminism Society wish to demonstrate our commitment to continuing that work, not merely as individual groups but as a community of people with complex and intersecting identities who nonetheless are united in solidarity together. We are united with our undocumented friends and families, with our peers with disabilities, with our Black, Brown, Asian and Latinx peers, with our Muslim and LGBTQ brothers, sisters, siblings and friends. Furthermore, we invite College Republicans to reach out, to join us at our meetings, to engage in dialogue genuinely and in good faith, in the hopes that we might together work to improve our college and our country.