From the Associate Provost

Archived Posts from the Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity

“The Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed!” – Pope Francis, 2015

9 March 2017

On Monday, President Trump signed an Executive order banning people traveling from six Muslim-majority nations for 90 days and banning all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. Some changes in both content and process differentiate Monday’s action from the controversial Executive order issued in January and subsequently blocked by courts. However, central components from the first Executive order remain and the intention of the order continues to be colored by campaign rhetoric aimed at Muslims, when President Trump called for “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December 2015.

Together with an expansion of immigration enforcement and the assignment of criminality to undocumented immigrants, this move represents a threat to the dignity and security of all immigrants and refugees, whose identities are inscribed within anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim discourses regardless of their status.

 Worse, some statements from the White House fly in the face of what we know through objective analyses: immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than native born Americans; zero refugees or immigrants from the six targeted Muslim-majority nations have killed Americans in terrorist attacks since 9/11; UNHCR estimates there were 65.1 million forcibly displaced people in the world, including 21.3 million refugees in 2015 and the United States admitted only 85,000 refugees in 2016 through rigorous screening processes.

Alarmist, misleading rhetoric from the President of the United States about Muslims and immigrants commits its own kind of scapegoating, but can also confer legitimacy to the scapegoating and marginalization of Muslims and immigrants in everyday American life. It also creates challenges to engaging in honest debates about national security and the political, economic, cultural, and scientific dimensions of migration during the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

 At USD, we continue to stand with immigrants and refugees and advocate for compassion, empathy, and mercy toward the marginalized. Through our ongoing recommitment to inclusion and diversity, we act to support the marginalized and contest the conditions that create marginalization. From the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching, the circumstances surrounding many immigrants and refugees are fundamentally life issues.

During a mass with new cardinals in 2015, Pope Francis stated:

“I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalized, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper — whether in body or soul — who encounters discrimination!”

Let us continue to cultivate both good-faith dialogues and honest debates about the issues of the day in the context of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, which asks us to find truth wherever it leads – and to do so while keeping grace within grasp.

Esteban del Río, Ph.D.

Associate Provost, Inclusion & Diversity

Associate Professor, Communication Studies


Recent Immigration Actions

14 February 2017

Last week, reports surfaced that immigration enforcement activities have increased and expanded under the Trump Administration. In Arizona, the dramatic detention and deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos to Nogales, Mexico last week captured the attention, alarm and compassion of many. In Nogales, she found shelter at the Kino Nazareth House, part of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which was begun by partnerships between the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Diocese of Tucson, the Society of Jesus, and Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist. KBI called “on the new Administration to protect family unity and respect the dignity of each individual.”

There are mixed reports causing confusion about the intensity of immigration enforcement under the new administration, which was very active under the Obama Administration. Federal immigration officials claim that actions in recent days are “consistent with routine,” whereas reports from immigrant rights advocates and communities suggest otherwise. One change that may influence both perceptions and actions is that the Trump Administration has vastly expanded those immigrants targeted for deportation, including those with no criminal records.

We have seen no activity on our campus or in our surrounding neighborhood. Should a federal law enforcement officer come to campus to conduct a background check or to seek other information, the Department of Public Safety and/or the Office of the General Counsel should be promptly notified. The university will closely monitor any actions in our community. You can find out more by clicking here.

This Wednesday, February 15 USD hosts a session titled Know Your Rights/¡Conoce tus derechos! in collaboration with the San Diego Immigrants Rights Coalition and Alliance San Diego at 6:30pm in the Humanities Center. At 7:30pm, students have organized a march/vigil titled Where Is the Love? beginning at the Student Life Pavilion. The Mass for Peace will offer special reflection on “welcoming the stranger.”

Black History Month at USD

10 February 2017

Coretta Scott King visited the University of San Diego on at least two occasions: a 1989 lecture in Shiley Theater about civil rights and her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and a 1995 address in the University Center Forums, where she endorsed the Million Man March.

During her remarks in 1989, in front of hundreds of students, she spoke about her husband’s legacy:

 “We’ve come a long way in bringing people an awareness to what he stood for: principles of non-violence, human rights, and an example of human dignity and decency. He taught how to love unconditionally. That’s important in a world context…We have to understand and respect and appreciate people who are different from ourselves. That is what we really say America is all about. It is a home for all of God’s children.”

Black History Month reminds us to bear witness as to how African American history and the struggle for civil rights animate our present moment, and to excavate the obscured histories of marginalized groups in the U.S. so that we may fully walk together in confronting injustice and creating a home “for all of God’s children.”

 Because February arrives at the beginning of our spring semester, it also represents an occasion to recognize that bigotry and the structural sin of racism must be contested with solidarity, social justice, and structural mercy.

As we consider how the past echoes into the present and determines our future, we are called to create a larger, more inclusive, and more just memory, casting a broader context on the events and decisions that face us today and tomorrow. There are many chances to join ongoing events about Black History Month at USD. See an updated list of events here.

Esteban del Río

Laneé Battle Johnson

Center for Inclusion & Diversity

The Recent Election 2016

21 November 2016

The recent election, like all elections, was characterized by differences of opinion about the direction of the nation. Frustration with the economy and a sense of losing ground pervades many communities and voting blocs. Unlike recent elections, xenophobia, nativism, misogyny, racism, and bigotry were given voice and legitimization in broad campaign discourses. Differences between us have been amplified and we are witnessing episodes of hostility and confrontation based on differences.

For international students, students whose parents are undocumented, DACA students, or others who have questions about safety and status or are feeling anxious and concerned please contact the International Center (Serra 201; phone: 619-260-4598) or the Counseling Center (Serra 300; phone:  619-260-4655). The easiest way to secure services is to visit the online USD MyWellness Portal

As a Catholic community, let our regard and behavior toward each other be guided by empathy, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and love, which are modeled in the life of Jesus and supported in Catholic Social Teaching. Our commitment to advance the diversity of our community and to practice inclusion remains focused and strategic. Creating global citizens is one of our strategic principles: USD seeks to set the standard as a school that produces liberally educated leaders with a global mindset, who embrace difference at home and abroad and act with integrity and compassion as Changemakers engaged in a complex and ever-changing world.

Many spaces have opened up for members of our community to talk about the election and and what it means - bring your best selves to these conversations. Listen to each other, understand each other, respectfully disagree, deliberate, and do so as a community united by our mission and the spirit of changemaking.

Esteban del Río, PhD
Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity

Day of Indigenous Resistance 2016

10 October 2016

Today is a good day to reflect on the ongoing resistance to colonization by Native people in the Western Hemisphere and the legacy of the tragic violence that accompanied conquest and continues to harm all of us. However, every day is a good day to join in struggle for Native sovereignty. The most accessible way is to take responsibility and learn about the breadth of the Native experience in the past and present through books, articles, films, and social documents produced by Native people. For students, ask your faculty to include such materials as content in courses, or as a set of considerations in research or in mentoring. You can also attend a panel this Wednesday at 4 - 5:30pm in UC Forum B titled "Indigenous Day of Resistance: (De) colonizing Universal Thought."

Our Office of Tribal Liaison here in the CID, led by Perse Lewis, brings the resources of the Native community in San Diego County together with the resources of the university. This is essential work as we reflect and recommit to expanding access and the transgressive process of inclusion and justice in partnering with communities.

Institutional diversity, inclusion, and social justice work does need to have focal points like our offices, where efforts can be pushed and held accountable. But it needs to happen every day, in every office across the university - which requires students, staff, and faculty to take responsibility and always-already be joining in a critical engagement with difference and power dynamics through which difference operates.

Esteban del Río, PhD
Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity

08 July 2016

The extrajudicial killings of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and a sniper attack targeting Dallas police officers, killing five officers and wounding 7 others and 2 civilians, mark a tragic week in the United States. The evolving stories of Castile and Sterling have sparked international media coverage and amplify the call that black lives matter in the context of a cascade of videotaped killings over the last several years and a larger history of institutional violence used against black people in the U.S. The attack on Dallas police last night and the deaths of still unnamed officers, demonstrate how violence can be contagious, working against justice. 

As a Catholic community, we are called to seek out the marginalized, as Pope Francis urges, by "rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world." As a university, we must continue to deepen understanding of the experiences and intersectionality of marginalized groups through our courses, conversations, and dialogues. We must continue to build empathy and pathways to justice through community engagement, research, and partnerships. We must renew our ongoing commitment to justly represent the beauty and breadth of God's creation in our own campus community, and to always transform ourselves to facilitate the hopes of increasingly diverse groups of students, faculty, and staff. We must continue to recognize that complex problems require an “integral ecology” defined by love.

Hope and justice go hand in hand. In this summer of so much sorrow, let us "roll up our sleeves" and find ways to grow hope and justice.

Esteban del Río, PhD
Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity