President calls for respect on campus

By Jessica Fellows

In light of recent events that have been described as harassment, Madonna University President Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa called on all students, staff and faculty to respect one another.

“The heart of the matter is our attitude toward incidents which show great disrespect to some persons, but even further, have the potential to become dangerous to the human family,” said Sr. Rose Marie in her email to the Madonna community.

One act of harassment occurred in the residence hall where a door had derogatory words written upon it. The second involved the defacement of a poster in the music wing.

Both incidents have been investigated and one was solved and the party apologized for the act of innocent thoughtlessness. The president also announced no evidence has been found that the other incident was initiated by a member of the Madonna University Community.

“I was not aware of the hate crime incident on campus. Incidents like these are heartbreaking to me. No one will ever know what a person has been through and what life struggles they've had to deal with. No one should judge a person let alone bully them,” said Stephanie O’Bleness, 23, Nursing major. “I will never understand the pleasure or satisfaction one gets from these kind of acts.”

These hateful acts are not what Madonna University stands for and the investigation will continue to find the person or persons who committed them, the president said.

Although many people visit the campus, not all are students and some of those visitors may not respect others as the Madonna community does.  Anyone with information about these incidents should report it, Sr. Rose Marie said.

“As a University community we are a diverse group of individuals, united by our mission of attaining a quality education based on solid values, first and foremost:  respect for the dignity of all persons.  We are very proud of our students and staff who work daily to live out these goals,” said Sr. Rose Marie.

In he email to the community, the president also acknowledged a part of the undergraduate bulletin speaking about respect:

Madonna University recognizes that each individual’s contribution is vital to achieving society’s goals and, therefore, values each person’s special talents and abilities.  A diversity of races, creeds, cultures and physical ability enriches the University community, and, by creating a climate of mutual respect and justice, the University affirms each individual’s right to dignity and civility. (Madonna University Undergraduate Bulletin 2010-2012, pp. 6-7)

This year, the university has embarked on an effort to create a more “diverse and inclusive community,” said Mike Meldrum, Chair of the Committee on Campus Diversity and Inclusion.

“The committee has just completed a vision statement that reflects a campus-wide commitment to an environment of respect, hospitality, understanding and welcome,” said Meldrum, who also directs the Office of Disability Resources and teaches in the Sign Language Department.

“When we hear about any kind of hateful words or acts, we all have a responsibility to participate in a sincere, compassionate, civil dialogue that would identify common ground or similar values or concerns to build on,” he said. “Hateful words or acts on our campus should never be tolerated.  We must come together to ensure a safe, welcoming community for everyone.”