Student organizations air grievances in manifesto

On Feb. 28, Hilltop Views published an advertisement entitled the Red Door Manifesto. Five organizations, the African Student Organization (ASO), Black Student Alliance (BSA), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Monarchs on the Hilltop, and Peers Recognized In Delivering Equality, authored a full page advertisement addressing the aggressions and lack of support from campus administration.

This letter comes after Deja Morgan, BSA President, met with members of other organizations on campus to address issues she and her peers noticed over the course of their education at St. Edward’s.

“I don’t think I started it with BSA…” Morgan said. “ It was really just me as a student coming together with other org leaders and seeing how they felt about it.”

Morgan said that a catalyst for the letter was the dismissal of Amy Nathan Wright, an adjunct professor.

“At the end of January there were a lot of changes happening and I heard that Dr. Amy Nathan Wright was asked to resign.” Deja said.

When asked about Wright’s resignation, Mischelle Diaz said she didn’t have any information, but offered that it wasn’t unusual for a professor to be let go.

“There’s all kinds of reasons why adjunct professors are here one semester and not here another.” Mischelle Diaz, Director of Communications said.

Wright declined to comment.

One of the co-authors of the manifesto, LULAC president Alejandro Izaguirre said that he decided to get involved in the production of the manifesto after Morgan reached out to him and asked him to contribute to the piece.

“[The manifesto] was something I was especially interested in because it gave my organization a platform to voice a lot of the concerns that we have about the university, specifically regarding DACA and undocumented student,” Izaguirre said. “I felt like the Red Door Manifesto gave us that platform to kind of voice our concerns and to call out the university on exactly what programs do they plan to implement to make sure these students are protected.”

He mentioned that the concerns he and his organization had stemmed in part from the lack of concern the university displayed in reaction to DACA’s termination last year and the ICE raids that were taking place in 2017.

Although President Martin signed his support of DACA students and announced in an email to the student body in November of 2017 that he would continue to “join advocacy efforts with other university presidents and associations of higher education who share our values and concern about this issue,” Izaguirre and other students are disappointed in the lack of force the university has put behind their intentions to help students in need.

“For us it was kind of frustrating to see that the administration was not being very proactive in terms of the claims that they made. It was especially scary last year when the ICE raids were going on and there was kind of no reaction from the university,” Izaguirre said. “How are you diverse and welcoming when you’re not catering to the needs of students who are most vulnerable who attend your school?”

Lisa Kirkpatrick, Vice President of student affairs, said she is waiting to hear back from students from the Open the Red Doors Coalition so she can meet with them and explore ways she can help remedy some of their complaints.

“I was concerned. Any time our students communicate that they’re not having the experience that they had hoped for it’s a concern for me,” Kirkpatrick said about reading the manifesto. “I really see this as an opportunity for us to learn more about what their experiences are so that we can connect more intentionally and address whatever concerns that they’re presenting.”

Diaz seconded Kirkpatrick, saying that they “needed to hear from students” and that “it’s important that the university understand their experience.”

Though Kirkpatrick said she wasn’t surprised about the content of the manifesto, she did remark on its uniqueness: not many student organizations have published such moving pieces in the university’s newspaper, at least not in recent history.

“I’ve been here for 23 years,” Kirkpatrick said. “Our student newspaper has looked differently over the years… but for five different student organizations to organize themselves and write such an eloquent letter, in such a powerful and impactful way… I don’t recall ever seeing something like this in the newspaper, not quite like this.”

Kirkpatrick emphasized her support for students and invites students to continue to express their grievances and bring forward their experiences of the university.

“As VP for Student Affairs, my stance is always ‘We need to hear from our students.’ they help us to be better. Their stories and their experiences are important for us to hear and to understand,” Kirkpatrick said. “I look forward to working together with those students that wrote the manifesto to better understand what their experiences are.”