20190927 Demonstration - LKenneally

Students Against Sweatshops put on a demonstration against a GU board member on Friday, September 27th.

Zags Against Labor Injustice (ZALI), met with John Sklut, Gonzaga’s chief of staff for the president’s cabinet and Deena González, provost and senior vice president on Tuesday.

The 2-hour-long meeting among eight members of ZALI and the two administrators was focused around the club’s initiative to have trustee emeritus, Timothy Barnard, either removed from the university’s board of trustees or have his name stripped off of buildings on GU’s campus.

“Our goal was to either gain or confirm the support of administration in our pursuit of discernment to either have Barnard’s name removed from the board or the building that has been erected on campus,” president of ZALI, Alán Fernando Parra, said after the meeting.

This meeting comes two weeks after ZALI led a demonstration on campus protesting the involvement of Barnard’s construction company in building the southern U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Throughout Tuesday night’s meeting, the administrators and the members of the club worked through a wide range of issues generally centered around the topic of Barnard, and what his involvement in the construction of the southern border wall entails for Gonzaga University. 

“At the core, this is not an issue of political advocacy or political activism,” Parra said. “At the end of the day, this issue is about the comfortability of the students on campus, the precedent that is being set by Gonzaga by allowing a representative of this symbol to be at the highest level of administration for this institution.”

To further advocate for its initiative, ZALI sent a letter to GU’s board of trustees on Sept. 26 expressing its concerns of how Barnards actions seem to contradict the GU mission statement. 

“[Barnard’s] failure to uphold our Jesuit values and mission, specifically in regards to its ‘commitment to the dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet,’” the letter said.

Sklut informed the members during the meeting that the board had received the letter, but had not had time to fully read it over or discuss possible actions that could be taken while they were on campus together.

The ZALI members asked repeatedly throughout the meeting if there was anything that administration could do to aid them in their fight. González told the group that the administration has no say in regards to Barnard’s position, but that they can relay information and opinions from the meeting to members of the board to let them deliberate amongst themselves.

“What’s clear is that this problem is bigger than administration, and will require a lot more organizing and voices to make those changes we wish to see,” Para said.

The Gonzaga.edu page about the board of trustees states that it is each active trustee’s right to preserve and live by the university’s mission statement. As ZALI stated in its letter to the board of trustees, it thinks that through his involvement in building the border wall, Barnard has acted outside of GU’s mission statement.

Barnard is a trustee emeritus, meaning that he has no voting power on the board, and holds the title of representative only. Because of this, he abides by different guidelines than the active members of the board.

Moving forward, ZALI is asking for all new board members and exiting board members to be held to the standard of upholding the university’s mission statement.

Also discussed in the meeting were the members’ initiative to make GU a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, meaning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could not be allowed on campus.

Sklut notified the members that the university is aligned with the State Joint Terrorism Task Force, which means that all forms of official government officers have to register with campus security before encroaching upon campus property. Sklut said that he checked with campus security on the number of cases they have of ICE being on campus and have found no documents pertaining to such instances.

The administrators also told ZALI that GU employees are given annuals notices which state that they aren’t allowed to disclose any private information about any GU student to any government agency if asked, including ICE.  

When asked if the administration would issue a public statement regarding the matter of Barnard and ZALI’s push to make change, neither Sklut or González could give a definitive answer to.

The two parties were able to set up a constant stream of contact between Sklut and ZALI, with Sklut promising the members another in person meeting within the next month.

Until then, ZALI will continue their push for advocacy on a number of issues on campus, and hope to build stronger connections with more GU officials.

“We do plan on creating a petition that anyone in the community can sign on in support of Barnard’s removal,” junior Ronnie Estoque, a ZALI member present at the meeting, said. “We also hope to schedule meetings with some current members on the board of trustees to discuss ways we can move forward and change this university for the better.”

about how Barnard’s actions seem to contradict the GU mission statement. 

“[Barnard’s] failure to uphold our Jesuit values and mission, specifically in regards to its ‘commitment to the dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet,’” the letter said.

Sklut informed the members during the meeting that the board had received the letter, but did not have time to fully read it over or discuss possible actions that could be taken while they were on campus together.

The ZALI members asked repeatedly throughout the meeting if there was anything that administration could do to aid them in their fight. González told the group that the administration has no say in regards to Barnard’s position, but that it can relay information and opinions from the meeting to members of the board to let them deliberate among themselves.

“What’s clear is that this problem is bigger than administration, and will require a lot more organizing and voices to make those changes we wish to see,” Para said.

The gonzaga.edu page about the board of trustees states that it is each active trustee’s right to preserve and live by the university’s mission statement. As ZALI stated in its letter to the board of trustees, it thinks that through his involvement in building the border wall, Barnard has acted outside of GU’s mission statement.

Barnard is a trustee emeritus, meaning that he has no voting power on the board, and holds the title of representative only. As a result, he abides by different guidelines than the active members of the board.

Moving forward, ZALI is asking for all new board members and exiting board members to be held to the standard of upholding the university’s mission statement.

Also discussed in the meeting were the members’ initiative to make GU a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, meaning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could not be allowed on campus.

Sklut notified the members that the university is aligned with the State Joint Terrorism Task Force, which means that all forms of official government officers have to register with campus security before encroaching upon campus property. Sklut said that he checked with campus security on the number of cases it has of ICE being on campus and found no documents pertaining to such instances.

The administrators also told ZALI that GU employees are given annual notices which state that they aren’t allowed to disclose any private information about any GU student to any government agency if asked, including ICE.  

When asked if the administration would issue a public statement regarding the matter of Barnard and ZALI’s push to make change, neither Sklut or González could give a definitive answer.

The two parties set up a constant stream of contact between Sklut and ZALI, with Sklut promising the members another in-person meeting within the next month.

Until then, ZALI will continue its push for advocacy on a number of issues on campus, and hope to build stronger connections with more GU officials.

“We do plan on creating a petition that anyone in the community can sign on in support of Barnard’s removal,” junior Ronnie Estoque, a ZALI member present at the meeting, said. “We also hope to schedule meetings with some current members on the board of trustees to discuss ways we can move forward and change this university for the better.”

Asher Ali is a staff writer.

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(1) comment

joseph

Hey ZALI, how about going after Gonzaga University for having a study abroad program in China (Gonzaga in China includes visits to Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen). China is the place that has a million Uyghurs in re-education camps for simply being Muslims. How does that fit with Gonzaga's mission? Not a peep from ZALI.

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