Dear President Sundborg

I am writing as a two-time alumna of and past donor to Seattle University (which I attended for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees) to register my deep disappointment with your recent public description of a photo of a drag performance featured on The Spectator’s front page as “obscene” and “indecent.”
The photo is neither of these things. In my opinion, it’s quite a good photo that illustrates the joy of drag. I fail to see how even a strongly conservative eye would interpret that fully-clothed and appropriately saucy kick as offensive.
Regardless of my personal opinion of the cover photo, I am much more deeply distressed by you, the President of SU, publicly shaming a student for performing at a university-sanctioned show. I am further distressed that this shaming is carried out by a leader who claims to have an interest in justice and inclusivity. I feel this is a targeted attack on LGBTQ students and on artistic expression.
I know that Seattle University markets itself as an institution promoting social justice; so it is curious to me that you would use the word “obscene” considering this term’s long history of being a legal and social tool of harassment and disenfranchisement for people in the LGBTQ community. As president of a justice-oriented university, I believe you know this history. This makes your actions seem hypocritical and leads me to doubt your commitment to justice. 
I’m also shocked that you are defending de-facto censorship of the student paper and declaring an art performance obscene; this is startlingly short-sighted during a time when the Trump-Pence administration is actively attacking the LGBTQ communities, civil liberties, and freedom of expression.
I’m especially disappointed that you chose to attack drag, a beautiful art form that has helped so many people resist oppression while also supporting one another and developing inner strength. As an interview subject in the documentary Paris is Burning put it: “you go in there [to a drag ball] and you feel 100% right being gay…it’s not like that in the world. It should be like that in the world.” To see such an empowering and life-affirming art form be treated as something shameful is troubling.
I believe that drag and artistic work are among our best tools for promoting social justice. There is nothing obscene here, but there is beauty and love and power. I hope in time you may also come to appreciate the pure joy and liberation that a fierce drag performance brings to the soul.
I have supported Seattle University in the past because you “talk the talk” of social justice; I can no longer support you since I see no evidence of you “walking the walk” of social justice. I hope someday I can return as a supporter, if and when Seattle University becomes a truly justice-centered institution. 
Many thanks for your time and attention.
Jennie Moore​
​MNPL 2010
BA 2002