A Letter to Father Sundborg

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You need to know that I feel betrayed. I chose Seattle University because not only did I feel as though I would receive a good education, I felt as though that would be happening in an accepting environment. For the most part, that has proven to be true. I am satisfied with my courses, impressed by my professors, and engaged with my fellow students. I have encountered people of all identities and backgrounds here, each receptive and open minded. In this way, I feel as though SU has held up its end of the deal. In return for my money, I have been given great academic opportunities and greater social ones, for which I am thankful.

But despite these opportunities, I feel as though I am being cheated. I decided to come to SU because despite my worries surrounding my trans identity, and despite the fact that this is a catholic institution, I thought I would be respected. And it turns out, I was wrong. While my fellow students have encouraged me, fostered growth, and shown willingness to learn, all you have done is lie. You need to know that following your comments regarding the drag show, my identity as a trans person has felt threatened; my existence has felt threatened.

Thankfully, this campus is full of wonderful individuals; individuals who do not share your sentiments. I now know that you are not this university, nor do you represent it. It’s the students. The individuals actively engaging with the community. The ones who are facilitating dialogue and creating spaces within this institution that are not only protecting one another but are also showing a genuine willingness to learn.

Your words, while I know them to be false, hurt nonetheless. I don’t mean to speak for everyone, but I know that I am not the only one who has experienced pain due to your actions. I expected more from you. In a Jesuit education, one is expected to follow the principle of “women and men for and with others” which means that one is to show respect and concern for those who are marginalized. Well guess what, your LGBTQ+ students are included in that. I would have thought that by now you would have learned that you do not attack other human beings because you do not agree with their identities or their lifestyles. I especially thought you would have known to not attack your students, many of whom have found the courage to live as their true authentic selves because of the freedom this University has given them. Just because you are the President of this University does not mean that you are finished learning.

If there is one thing I hope you take away from this, it’s exactly that. You are never done learning. So, before you hastily make comments attacking the identities of your students, remember that your path to knowledge has no end. You have a right to your beliefs, but there will always be room to grow. Your act of violence will not silence us. We will not be quieted by your bigoted remarks.

Hunter Baril, an unapologetically trans student