Fr. Doctor addresses students on respect and civility
Student says it does not go far enough, President McGee responds
By Alex Crozier
In an email to all students and faculty of QU, Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. John Doctor addressed issues between students. While not mentioning any specific events, the letter focuses on students not treating each other with respect.
“It has come to my attention that over the last month there have been incidents of incivility within the university community. These incidents manifested a total disrespect of the other,” Fr. Doctor wrote.
Fr. Doctor uses many biblical analogies and quotes to try to get students to treat each other with more respect.
“Jesus exhorts us in the Gospels, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Society in his time, much as in our own time, relegated all sorts of people to margins, but he recognized the dignity and upheld the value of every single person,” Fr. Doctor wrote.
Without any context of what brought on this action from Fr. Doctor some students were left wondering what specifically was happening on campus to get this reaction. But others had an idea of what was happening. Days after the email was sent, after a Black Student Union meeting, QU student Aloysius Cooper gave the email context.
“The email wouldn’t have went out if people wouldn’t have called us the n-word. The email would have not been put out,” Cooper said.
Many students at QU have brought up claims of racist behavior by other students, and that an issue so important should have been handled by someone else.
“When the email went out, no one knew who the person was, no one knew who Fr. John was,” Cooper said. “I also think the email should have come from the president of this university. Because he’s the new president here, we didn’t come meet him, he came to meet us. So as an African American student on campus, I want to see where he stands on this issue. Because it just doesn’t happen in Quincy or at QU, it happens everywhere. I know for a fact that this isn’t his first time experiencing this, or hearing the word. But I wanna know his stance on the issue.”
This issue, whether or not it is the reason of Fr. Doctor’s letter, has not been publicly addressed by the university.
The letter also obliges everyone to set time aside to reflect on how they are upholding the value and dignity of each other. Then calling on all faculty and students to take action if they see harassment on campus and report it to a qualified staff member. Filling a Title IX claim, as the student body was recent trained to do, would also be acceptable.
Fr. Doctor addressed concerns about his letter and the questions surrounding it.
“I know there’s a concern in relationship to specific events and what brought that all on in regards to me having to write such a letter. I really can’t speak specifically to any one incident. But I can say this, it was brought to me that there have been acts where a few students really have demeaned another person or spoke disrespectfully to them, and it was brought to my attention by two staff people that work directly with students. So I felt the need to at least put it out there for all of us to stop and reflect just how respectful is our behavior,” Fr. Doctor said.
Quincy University President Dr. Brian McGee also had a chance to respond to the letter and to Cooper’s comments.
“Any time the institution’s core mission is in question there are two people who can speak to that, Fr. John and me. Fr. John is always the right person to do it, he represents our Franciscan and Catholic identity and core mission. I’m referenced multiple times in that letter he wrote for that reason because we needed to be aligned and in agreement on what was being said and I think we did that. I am sorry if that disappoints anyone because we wanted to do nothing but signal the importance of civility on this campus. And I’ll note as well if there was a single incident we were writing about we would have written a single incident. We had multiple incidences we wanted to talk about, and the best way to do that was to talk about that as a civility concern. It made more sense to talk about civility in general because there were multiple issues in question,” McGee said.