By Mickey L. Mattox, First Things.
Working in my Marquette office one afternoon in the spring of 2010, I heard unusual sounds coming from the normally quiet lawns outside my window. I was surprised to see a modest assembly of students and professors preparing to march in protest. Against what? Minutes later, an email arrived informing me that the university’s then-president, Robert Wild, S.J., had voided a contract extended to Jodi O’Brien to join us as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Though the contract had already been signed, Fr. Wild—perhaps under external pressure—decided that O’Brien, a partnered lesbian whose research included queer studies, was not an appropriate choice to represent our mission and identity.
Although an ordinary person with a passing knowledge of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church would think such a decision obvious, the department chairs in the college soon gathered and voted almost unanimously to censure Wild’s decision. The press, meanwhile, demanded an explanation. On the defensive, the university allegedly paid a considerable sum in order to break the contract. Officials were soon exercising themselves to demonstrate their concern for equitable treatment of gays and lesbians. The university would initiate projects, courses, conferences, and the like to explore issues of sex and gender! The clear implication was that change would come, though slowly. Marquette would get with the sexual-liberation program so that something like the O’Brien affair would never happen again.
Since 2010, the campaign for sexual diversity at Marquette has advanced rapidly. Last year, the university announced the expansion of the former Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (established in the wake of the O’Brien dustup) into two new initiatives: a Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies and an LGBTQ Resource Center. How much funding has been increased has not been disclosed. We also now have an Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, which offers faculty and staff awards for excellence in, yes, “diversity and inclusion.” Again, how much this will cost hasn’t been revealed. We do know, however, that funds have been promised to support the development of new courses that advance the cause. A faculty fellows program in diversity is also in the works.
“Diversity” and “inclusion” are vague and uncertain terms that can mean almost anything. Here at Marquette they have become code for challenging Catholic sexual morality and pushing forward a gender ideology that denies that human beings were created as male and female in the image of God. Attempting to instill communal meaning through the new quest for diversity, Marquette news releases breathlessly announce that the struggle for civil rights begun by Martin Luther King Jr. is now being fulfilled here by the campaign for the inclusion of sexual minorities.
How is that going? A 2015 campus “climate survey” reported that most of us find Marquette a great place to work. However, the survey also noted experiences of “exclusionary, hostile, or offensive conduct.” The main problem of “exclusion” was neither race nor class. Instead, experiences of “exclusion” were reported most often by those who self-identified as L, G, B, or Q. (The “T” option was not given.) The survey also indicated that traditional Catholics experience intimidation and exclusion, especially when the talk turns to sexuality. These results suggest that “social justice” at Marquette has been refocused in an intense even if mostly subterranean struggle over Catholic sexual morality.
Related article: Gender Ideology as a Consequence of Secularism