Yesterday I participated in the Adjunct Action Fast for Faculty on my campus at Saint Louis University. Here I am photo bombing some of my young friends at that event late in the afternoon.
And here’s a shot of a number of us in the early morning hours. I’m in the background holding up a silly poster—good silliness, to be sure. Of course, if I had made the poster I’d have written “pease” (q. v.).
We talked to members of the university community at the clock tower and collected a respectable number of signatures from folks who were willing to support our efforts to negotiate for better wages and working conditions for adjunct faculty at the Jesuit colleges and universities. A Just Employment Policy has been in effect at Georgetown University for ten years now. We’re hoping that similar policies can be adopted throughout the Jesuit system.
We’re also hoping that Pope Francis’ visit to this country will help to energize our effort, perhaps even endorse it; and in the spirit of that hope we joined the Nuns on the Bus at the opening rally of their current bus tour, which began in St. Louis today in the shadow of the Dred Scott courthouse framed by the Gateway Arch, that iconic and problematic image the American dream. Sister Simone Campbell referenced the image in her opening remarks to the crowd in Kiener Plaza and linked it to the theme of the bus tour: “Bridging divides: transforming our politics.”
I didn’t have a camera with me at the Nuns’ event, but I did manage an inadequate cell phone photo that shows the bus parked behind the speakers’ platform and the Courthouse dome and Arch in the background.
Fortunately, however, there are lots of good pictures of the event at the Nuns’ Network site at Flickr. There is also a good piece on NPR that summarizes the event, including my remarks, as well as providing more photos. And here’s the Nuns’ own summary on tumblr. I get quoted in it, though you have to look around to find the quotes.
I made a short speech about our effort in the Jesuit universities and afterwards recorded more remarks for the Nuns on the Bus Network archive. Then I signed the bus, along with a good many others, before returning to campus for the rest of the day. In the evening I attended another event with the Nuns at the college church. Quite a large crowd had assembled, and for an hour and a half we participated in small and large discussions about the various divides we know and what efforts we know of that are attempting to breach them. It was a heady experience, the room full of good energy, people clamoring to speak.
As I thought about it afterwards, I remembered the Truth and Reconciliation commission from the early days of the new South Africa. Like that effort, this bus tour doesn’t aim at ideological victory but rather at accommodation and community. I’m thinking that the Nuns intend to lay the takings from this long conversation of theirs, that will take them to a score of American cities, on Pope Francis’ heart in some way as he arrives in this country later this month.