We Advocate for the Dignity of All

Message from the President
November 14, 2016

Dear LMU Community:

We just concluded an eventful week at LMU and in our nation and world. As we collect our thoughts and commit our spirits to the future, I remind you of our enduring commitment to our Jesuit and Marymount mission. While our institution does not take political positions, I am compelled to address the concern, fear, and uncertainty expressed within our community. The divisive rhetoric during the presidential campaign and in the aftermath of the election has marginalized members of our community and beyond. Our words and actions matter, for they reveal our innermost thoughts and biases.

To those who are distressed, or unsure of what the future holds, LMU stands in solidarity with you and supports you. We do not tolerate unwelcome or harassing conduct based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, among other characteristics. We must continue examining our consciences and be advocates for the dignity of all members of our community. And, without question, we must reject all gestures, statements, and symbols of hate that appear on our campus or elsewhere.

As I outlined in my convocation address last month, Catholic social teaching reminds us that each person is born of immutable dignity in the eyes of God, born in the image of God. I spoke about diversity and its value in our community. LMU is rooted in its Catholicity, and that word—catholic—is defined as universal, all-embracing, and whole. When our impassioned and irrepressible spirits are unified in respect for and with one another, our bonds are strengthened and we are whole. When our passions overtake our compassion for any member of our community, we are all diminished, our convictions are tested, and we are not whole.

I share our community’s concern for the fate of our undocumented students and those whose relatives may be undocumented. LMU’s support of undocumented students is longstanding: they interconnect our community to our global society, and they imagine a world where the promise of an LMU education overcomes barriers, creating a better life for those here and for those to come. We designated The Cave in Sacred Heart Chapel and Malone 210 as safe spaces of kinship, conversation, and care. We will continue to explore how we can extend our support.

Elizabeth Drummond, associate professor of history and president of the Faculty Senate, wrote to her faculty colleagues last week that “As a university, we are committed to the free and open exchange of ideas; to a rigorous engagement with questions about the human condition, the state of politics, the meaning of justice, notions of the common good; and to grappling with ambiguity and uncertainty as we search for meaning in a turbulent and changing world.” Lash Nolen ’17, president of ASLMU, wrote to students last week, stating that we must “continue to uphold the inherent value of each and every human person, and we must continue to find strength in our university’s mission.” I applaud them for their leadership. Our values of inclusion and respect for one another continue to bind and permeate us.

Our mission calls for us to be persons for and with others. LMU has been, is, and will remain an inclusive environment in which all persons are welcome, with continual encouragement of learning. LMU has been, is, and will remain a place where all ideas are not only welcomed, but welcomed with civility and zeal for open dialogue. I will always advocate for our community members—especially those who are compromised. Whatever our personal identities, our respect and care for one another must always prevail.

With sincere appreciation and thanks,

Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.