Reading about SLU’s receiving of Rex Sinquefield’s fifty million dollars reminded me of a letter Mev Puleo wrote to then SLU President Biondi 25 years ago …
After the exhilarating World Youth Day experience, Mev jumped right into her doctoral program at the GTU in Religion and the Arts. Early on, she became acquainted with Maria Bower, a doctoral student in spirituality, with whom she increasingly spent time. She also continued her Haiti solidarity work with local activists Pierre LaBoussiere and Nancy Laleau. But even as she began her study, her experience earlier in the year in El Salvador was raising all kinds of questions to her about higher education. She dashed off the following letter to St. Louis University President Father Lawrence Biondi.
6 September 1993
Lawrence Biondi, S.J.
St. Louis University
221 North Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63103
Dear Father Biondi,
Greetings from a SLU alumna living in California. I hear good words about you from both my father, Peter Puleo, and from some SLU faculty with whom I keep in touch, such as Sr. Dolores Greeley. Congratulations on your good work.
I am writing in response to the “Campaign for St. Louis University” materials. You and those who worked on this produced a beautiful publication with an attractive layout — which I appreciate as a professional photographer. A while back, when I was heading to El Salvador for a meeting, Fr. McGannon gave me some literature on both the SLU Campaign and for the UCA-El Salvador Campaign. (I imagine you are familiar with that publication as well, put out by the AJCU in D.C.).
As a graduate and great fan of SLU, and as a person who has been active in solidarity work with Central America for more than a decade (which I began during my student years at SLU), I was jarred by looking at the two campaign booklets side by side. I am very impressed with the UCA’s attention to “Social Outreach,” their ongoing analysis of the “national reality,” their attention to institutional violence, defense of human rights, and to bringing together people from across the political spectrum to try to encourage a more just, humane society. They are explicit in their aims to educate the privileged (the literate and college-bound) to lead and serve the needs of the majority of the country. While the SLU booklet mentions community service and scholarship funds, these themes of immersion, analysis and engagement in the local social reality are absent. Read the rest of this entry »