Letter drafted and submitted by SMU alumna Elizabeth Baertlein, B.A. English, 2010.
(Signed by 382 Saint Mary’s University alumni in a period of about 24 hours via email and Facebook; for a complete list of signatures, visit www.tinyurl.com/SMULetter)
An open letter to Saint Mary’s University President Rev. James Burns, Board of Trustees, and administration:
We, the undersigned alumni, have been inspired upon hearing the recent news of current Saint Mary’s University students standing up and speaking out for the recognition and inclusion of LGBTQ+ students on campus. We would like to express our support for this cause and amplify the voices of current students who are calling upon the university administration to enter into dialogue and foster an inclusive and equitable environment.
During our time as students we came to appreciate the uniquely close and supportive community at Saint Mary’s. This tight-knit campus community fostered our growth as individuals entering adulthood and also shaped our understanding of what it means to live and learn among a diverse group of people. We want all Saint Mary’s students to feel safe, comfortable, and welcome in this campus community, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Therefore, we call upon the administration to listen with open hearts and minds to the concerns of current students who are feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, or unwelcome in the campus community.
Listening to those who feel unheard in the community is an important part of Saint Mary’s Lasallian Catholic identity and is in alignment with the Lasallian Core Principles of “Respect for All Persons,” “Inclusive Community,” and “Concern for the Poor and Social Justice.” Current students will learn from the example the administration sets in this situation. We hope that you will set an example that demonstrates how to listen deeply and dialogue respectfully. Ultimately, we hope that this process will allow the campus community to institute changes that will ensure that each member of the community, especially those of minoritized identities, feels safe, comfortable, and welcome on campus.
In a world where many LGBTQ+ people face questions about the legitimacy of their identities, Saint Mary’s has the opportunity to stand out by creating a place and community where all students are welcome as they are.