By Deanna Howes Spiro, Vice President of Communications, AJCU
Every two years, we dedicate our October issue of Connections to civic engagement and voter outreach programs on Jesuit campuses. While this is the first time that such programs are being held primarily online, the sense of optimism and desire to participate in the democratic process remain the same.
For many members of Generation Z (who comprise the majority of our undergraduate student populations), next month’s election will be their first to cast votes for a president. Some Jesuit universities, including Rockhurst University and Saint Peter’s University, have focused on encouraging students to vote by hosting voter registration drives and community events. At Loyola Marymount University and Xavier University, administrators are helping students to look beyond the election, and learn how to engage in constructive, civil discourse with individuals of opposing political views.
On a broader level, our colleagues at the Ignatian Solidarity Network and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States are encouraging all members of the Ignatian family (including parishioners at Jesuit churches) to apply Ignatian principles of discernment and contemplation to their decision-making processes during the election season. You’ll learn more about their efforts in this issue of Connections.
There is an additional document that we encourage our readers to consider in advance of November 3: Fratelli Tutti (“On Fraternity and Social Friendship”), a new encyclical issued by Pope Francis on October 3. Through this letter to the world, Pope Francis asks all of us to consider our relationships with each other and ourselves, with particular attention paid to the concepts of “Liberty” and “Freedom”:
“Fraternity is born not only of a climate of respect for individual liberties, or even of a certain administratively guaranteed equality. Fraternity necessarily calls for something greater, which in turn enhances freedom and equality. What happens when fraternity is not consciously cultivated, when there is a lack of political will to promote it through education in fraternity, through dialogue and through the recognition of the values of reciprocity and mutual enrichment? Liberty becomes nothing more than a condition for living as we will, completely free to choose to whom or what we will belong, or simply to possess or exploit. This shallow understanding has little to do with the richness of a liberty directed above all to love.”
We join all Americans in praying for a peaceful election on November 3, and for a continued commitment to liberty and justice for all.
To learn more about voting-related events at Jesuit colleges and universities, please visit ajcunet.edu/alumni-events.