Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Today, the May 6th Movement informed Marquette University President, Rev. Robert Wild, S.J. that they have contacted various legal and academic organizations calling for academic censure and legal action against Marquette for rescinding an offer of Deanship to Dr. Jodi O’Brien, a sociologist and the Louis B. Gaffney Endowed Chair at Seattle University, a Jesuit, Catholic school.

The May 6th Movement is a coalition of undergraduate and graduate students at Marquette, named for a student and faculty movement begun on May 6th, the day it was announced that Marquette would not fulfill its contract with Dr. O’Brien.

Dr. O’Brien was offered the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences after a two-year search, which included two separate applications from Dr. O’Brien, one explicitly solicited by Marquette. O’Brien accepted the offer, but before the appointment was officially announced, O’Brien was informed that Fr. Wild and Provost John Pauly would not execute the contract. The University has cited O’Brien’s academic publications on lesbian sexuality, gay partnership and the nature of the family as evidence that she would not fit in with the Catholic mission and identity of Marquette.

The decision to rescind the offer of Deanship to O’Brien was made on the basis of the content of her academic writings, which is a clear violation of Marquette’s commitment to academic freedom. In addition, the inclusion of her sexuality in the hiring decision is a violation of Marquette’s commitment to diversity and human dignity, as well as a violation of Wisconsin and Federal Law. Although Marquette is a private institution, the University receives federal funding for scholarships and grants, and therefore is bound by federal statutes of non-discrimination.

In a student forum on May 11, Fr. Wild announced that there was no outside influence on the decision to rescind the offer to O’Brien. On May 12, a letter from Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki was made public, in which Listecki expressed concern about the offer to O’Brien, between the time the contract was offered and when it was rescinded. In the wake of this news, the May 6th Movement requested a meeting with Fr. Wild multiple times, and he refused to meet with students in a timely manner. This refusal prompted the May 6th Movement to contact these academic and legal organizations, in order to illustrate how this decision has affected and will continue to affect Marquette’s standing in the community of higher learning.

The organizations contacted by the May 6th Movement include the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the American Civil Liberties Union, Campus Progress, Lambda Legal, the American Association of University Women, the American Association of University Professors, the American Philosophical Association, the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Anthropological Association and the National Women’s Studies Association.

Students released the following excerpt from correspondence with Fr. Wild today:

Dear Father Wild,

You taught us to listen to reason, to be open to discourse and to show concern for all on whom our actions will have impact. You taught us to respect the dignity and the inherent, unassailable value of every single human person. You taught us to love learning and to value the free and open expression of ideas. You taught us to be responsible and loving men and women for others. You taught us to follow our hearts and our consciences. You taught us to be the difference. You taught us well, and we will live these lessons, even when you fail to do so. We are who you taught us to be. We are Marquette.


Concerned Students

Monday, May 17, 2010

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Position Statement

We, a coalition of concerned undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni at Marquette University;

Consider the peace and happiness of the Marquette community a priority of the highest level;

Conclude that all available evidence verifies that the withdrawal of the offer made for the position for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to Dr. Jodi O'Brien was based in part on her sexual orientation; and that this is unjust;

Conclude that Archbishop Listecki's recent statements prove that there was outside intervention into our University community; and while we recognize his right to state an opinion, we nevertheless affirm that Marquette is an independent University within the Archdiocese;

Are concerned with the administration's lack of adequate explanation for the reasons behind their decisions on this matter;

Affirm that this injustice has caused immeasurable damage to Marquette's reputation and identity as a University founded upon Jesuit, Catholic values;

Affirm that this injustice compromises Marquette's stated commitment to academic freedom;

Believe the administration can only regain our trust after concretely demonstrating their will to repair the harm that has been done in the utmost level of professional accountability;

Gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Rev. Robert Wild, S.J., whose exemplary service of 14 years as our President has been crucial in transforming Marquette into the prestigious institution it is today;

Recognize our enduring debt to his service as ongoing beneficiaries of its positive consequences;

Are conscious that Fr. Wild's numerous efforts to dialogue with the greater Marquette community over the years demonstrate his sincere love and commitment to the well-being of out institution;

Insist that as our leader, Fr. Wild should bear the final responsibility for this injustice;

Demands the following as the necessary measures that ought to be taken as steps towards reconciliation and healing in our community:
1. We demand Fr. Wild's immediate resignation. As the highest and final decision maker he is ultimately at fault. His decision to rescind the offer to Dr. Jodi O'Brien has caused immeasurable damage to Marquette University's standing as a safe, diverse, and open institution of higher learning.
2. We demand a series of public apologies from Fr. Wild. These apologies should be directed to Dr. Jodi O'Brien, the search committee that he has overridden, the Marquette community, and the greater LGBT community. These apologies would be a concrete initial step toward the greater goal of reconciliation and healing from this disastrous decision.
3. We demand the offer be re-extended to Dr. O'Brien. The rescinding of the offer was unjust. This act would be a crucial step toward rectifying this injustice.