Keep the Junipero Serra Statue Off LMU's Campus

Keep the Junipero Serra Statue Off LMU's Campus

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Indigenous Student Union of LMU started this petition to Loyola Marymount University

Indigenous Student Union of LMU demands that the Junipero Serra statue stay off of our LMU campus. We have compiled this petition for the University to act on our request. We urge the University to respond to our statement by Monday November 16, 2020. Response can be made to indigenousstudentunion.lmu@gmail.com

OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

We as LMU's Indigenous Student Union recognize and honor the Tongva people as well as their land which LMU resides on.

One of our founding goals at ISU has been the removal of the Junipero Serra statue on LMU’s campus. We see this as just one step acknowledging that LMU currently resides on stolen land of the Tongva Tribe and taking action towards making our campus a safe and welcoming place for Indigenous people and others of marginalized identities and backgrounds. This call to action has been long standing at LMU and throughout Indigenous and allied communities across California who have been working for years to remove similar statues of Junipero Serra, a colonizer.  


Our organization had hoped that, though lacking transparency, the sudden disappearance of the statue from its Von der Ahe location this past summer meant that LMU had made the decision to place the safety and considerations of Indigenous and marginalized students at the forefront of their agenda. However, this did not turn out to be the case, as on October 19, 2020, LMU released a statement in LMU This Week informing the community of the statue’s status. The Junipero Serra statue is currently undergoing repair and will eventually be brought back to campus, though relocated to an undisclosed location. 


LMU’s statement argued that keeping the statue will allow the campus community to deepen our knowledge about the complicated history of Christianity and colonization. The statement also declared that “the discussion about moving or modifying the statue has been underway, openly collaborative, and known within the community for several years with input from faculty, students, and campus leaders.” 


However, this “discussion” has not been transparent, nor open to the entire LMU community, especially students who represent Indigenous and/or marginalized backgrounds. While the Indigenous Student Union agrees that our campus community must learn about the brutal history of Christian colonization, doing so through a public, glorifying statue that contains only a brief account account of the violence and destruction caused by Junipero Serra and other Spanish colonizers, is not an effective form of education, nor will it serve to make students of marginalized identities feel included, safe, and heard on campus.


Events related to Black Lives Matter have prompted the University to reckon with its own history of racism and white supremacy. Over the summer, the University committed to increasing “the diversity and inclusiveness of our LMU community” through “listening and learning” and “sustained institutional change,” as detailed in President Timothy Law Snyder’s June 16th open letter, Beyond Words. Removing the Junipero Serra statue is a direct action that LMU could take to signify listening to and taking action with and for our marginalized students. Though keeping the statue as a means to “educate” about history might have good intentions, doing so continues to center the experiences and interests of community members in positions of power, namely our white peers, and disregards the well being and ongoing demands of Indigenous and/or marginalized students. 


We demand that the statue stay off campus and that the education surrounding Christian colonization be conducted through a different, more intentional manner that centers the lives of our community members of Indigenous and/or marginalized backgrounds. If the University is truly committed to ongoing efforts to increase diversity and inclusion within our institution, the Junipero Serra statue would be kept off our campus. 

With love,

ISU of LMU

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