Seattle University’s Campus Ministry mission statement begins, “Rooted in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition, Campus Ministry serves a vibrantly diverse, yet inclusive community…” As the department seeks a new head, recent concerns have arisen about their call for a qualified, Catholic candidate. While I certainly respect the presence of students of multiple faiths, Seattle University was founded over a century ago as a Catholic university. The school has every right to continue to advocate that belief system.
Questioning the school’s jurisdiction in planning the direction of its own campus ministry is akin to questioning the Jesuit Catholic tradition that has filtered throughout the entire university. Just because the majority of the student body may not identify with the institutional Catholic Church does not mean the school is beholden to adapting its own inherent structure. The student body elected to attend a Catholic institution of their own free will (and sealing the deal with a pretty convincing $40,000 stamp of approval).
You can’t check into a hotel room and demand the right to redecorate the place.
If people are incensed about this particular aspect of the school’s identity, why are they not taking a stand against the Mass of the Holy Spirit the university holds at the beginning of each year to bless the students?
Others would argue that requiring that the head of the department be a Catholic excludes otherwise highly qualified candidates from the position. The argument is both hypothetical and windy; it negates the ability to place requirements on any job restriction, as a better option who does not fall under said requirement MIGHT exist. With this logic, you can’t eat Lucky Charms, because Cinnamon Toast Crunch is out there, and is pretty damn good.
Seattle U can remain intensely supportive of diversity, without being exclusive, if they require a Catholic head of ministry.