It’s on nights like tonight that I realize that student affairs probably can’t be a career for me. The universe of student affairs just isn’t the place where Catholics can grow and work in an environment that isn’t hostile towards them in some way. Like tonight, part of my job as a student activities associate was to bring a comedian to campus. It was the filthiest thing I’ve heard since starting my job. Whether it was the pornography and masturbation bit, or the part where Catholics and Christians were belittled for intelligent design and chastity, or the criticism of parents with more than one child, or the part about Confession being an infinite “get-out-of-jail-free-card”, or the “lets-make-racism-funny” bit, or the F-bombs, S-bombs, A-hole bombs and other colorful bombs, this comedian was nothing short of offensive.
And that’s what student affairs ends up being like. For the Catholics who want to actually live a Catholic life, there are few accommodations made for us. It doesn’t matter if unfettered sexual expression doesn’t square with our morals, we must promote it, or at the very least, never speak out against it. It doesn’t matter if we believe that contraception is immoral, we must listen to jokes about, we must listen to criticism of those who have more than one child, we must promote “safe” sex. It doesn’t matter if we believe that life is sacred, our jobs require us to accept and tolerate the choices of those who destroy life out of fear, selfishness, or other reasons.
This is why I left student staff the first time. This is why I hated the bureaucracy of my job, the “toleration” trainings where we had to tolerate every belief but Christianity, where hostile atheists or GLBTQIA activists infallibly interpreted certain passages of Scripture to “enlighten” us to God’s true purpose when it came to homosexuality. Don’t get me wrong, the every day tasks, the interaction with my residents, the community building is something that I love. I can live in harmony and build a community with all of my students whether they are gay, straight, lesbian, bi, atheist, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, American, Chinese, Mexican, African-American, fat, thin, tall, short, smart, stupid, witty, boring, or dumb.
But I know that the further up I climb from RA to Hall Director, to Associate Director and beyond, I will be forced to compromise who I am more and more often. I will be forced to condone actions and behaviors I disagree with. I will have to check my fundamental rights at the door. And that is something I can’t do.
For right now, though, my job is alright. When it comes to the nitty gritty, I can avoid compromising my values. I might have to listen to a filthy, disrespectful comedian here and there, but overall, I have the freedom to be a faithful Catholic when it comes to my job. But when I look to the future I know that my ultimate career path cannot move much further down this road for the sake of my eternal soul.