The Hard Is What Makes It Beautiful


I went to USD. Of course, that’s usually called “South Dakota” on the sports tickers. That’s because there’s another USD: The University of San Diego. It’s a Jesuit school, and it’s in the middle of a controversy.

A group on campus is putting on a drag show Wednesday. The question becomes this: does a Catholic campus allow it?

The discussion goes deep. Nobody’s having sex. Not all drag queens are gay. Not all drag kings are gay, for that matter. Many people attending drag shows are straight and love the spectacle of the whole thing.

But the connection to homosexuality is there. Now, it becomes a question of whether or not cross-dressing for performance is something the Catholic institution should allow on campus. The president supports the students’ right to express themselves. Donors have threatened to quit contributing to the school. Groups have formed. Some are calling on USD to strenuously promote “Catholic values” by forbidding the show’s production. Others have rallied around the “anti-hate” aspect of this issue.

It’s a mess. A strange, confusing, beautiful mess. Bet it sells out, though! That’s life on a liberal arts campus. Ideas fly everywhere. Disagreement abounds. It gets ugly sometimes. It’s beautifully ugly.

Meanwhile, at UC-Davis, they finally got the official report from the Reynoso Task Force, or what could aptly be named, “The Committee of the Obvious.”

Their conclusion? “Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented.”

Then follows wording about campus culture–debate and dissent being important. Then there’s the whole idea of better communication before you pepper spray unarmed college kids in front of hundreds of people.

No matter what happens in San Diego, I can assume everybody is safe for having different opinions. Most times, such differences of opinions dissipate and get forgotten. Sometimes, though, those opinion clashes can result in great things. USD attracted $25 million and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. I wish the people at UC-Davis felt the same way.

One of the hardest jobs in higher education right now? The Admissions Director at UC-D.

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.
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