Writers Note: I was about to write an article about my feelings of how hard it has been dealing with the University I worked for killing one of my best students, but then I ran across this piece I had written in 2015. I feel it does a good job getting across how I felt and how I still feel about the situation. At the end of this article I write about how I was going up for Tenure at the time. I was found to not have “institutional fit” by the tenure committee. I do not regret standing up, I do not regret losing my job over it. That said, standing up for what is right hasn’t helped me find another job and it has not been a easy journey to travel. However, I encourage those who read this to speak up, not because you will be rewarded, but because it is the right thing to do.
I began working at UIW in 2009 as an adjunct professor, teaching audio production. In 2010, I was hired as a tenure track professor. A graduate of Holmes High School in San Antonio and the University of Texas at Austin where I obtained my BS, MA and PhD, I am an eagle scout and my journey in life has been to serve others.
When I joined the University of the Incarnate Word as a tenure track professor, I met with the provost, the mission office, and many others. I was vetted and deemed worthy as a tenure track professor.
At this time, I was introduced to UIW’s mission statement: “The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic institution that welcomes to its community persons of diverse backgrounds, in the belief that their respectful interaction advances the discovery of truth, mutual understanding, self-realization, and the common good.”
Working at UIW, my students continue to amaze me and I am thankful for the support of several colleagues and administrators that have led me to my associate professorship.
I take UIW’s mission very seriously. It’s something that I believe each person at our university has a responsibility to exude and maintain.
I still believe in this mission today, and I know that UIW is capable of upholding such a great mission.
With that said, I need to share my thoughts about Cameron Redus’s death. Cameron was a student of mine, and as with many of my students, he shared his life with me. He was the epitome of a good person.
He happened into a situation that many college students fall into…driving while under the influence. I should also mention, many San Antonians in general fall into this situation and, with Fiesta coming up, drunk driving will continue to be an issue.
I personally do not smoke, drink, or do drugs. However, as a 34-year-old, I know people from all walks of life that do.
We know this is an issue. We created established protocols for dealing with these issues. At the same time that Cameron passed away, I had a close friend’s stepfather pass away from cancer. He was a police officer, specializing in DUI’s for over 20 years. He worked his beat and never once ended anyone’s life.
It was quite a juxtaposition to be at both Cameron’s funeral and my friend’s step father’s funeral within a short period of time. I saw both sides. I saw the situation, humanized between citizens and police officers.
So I understand how these things happen. They are unfortunate and something I wish upon no one. The loss of Cameron deeply impacted me. He was a student of mine with radical potential, whose life was cut far too short. My friend’s step father whose life of saving people from themselves on the road, was cut short due to cancer.
Reflecting on Cameron’s death, which has affected not just me, but the 10 students I had to take the the funeral, by myself. The 100’s, if not 1000’s, of attendees at his funeral and those who were unable to make it. I have grown to have to deal with a duality of this journey to coming to terms with his passing.
I have had to come to terms with students and a community who do not understand why their son, brother, and friend are no more. I have had to deal colleagues who are also perplexed at the situation.
It has made things like “logic” and “reasoning” very tough for us all. But most of all, the hardest part I have had, is watching a select few represent UIW in the public eye. Watching them misrepresent the mission of the Incarnate Word. As I have been taught by some great administrators at UIW and colleagues, we are here to love and help others. However, I feel our response to this situation has followed the letter of the law rather than the morals and ethics the Mission of the Incarnate Word has taught us to represent and live by.
I take my job very seriously and believe in us all being here for each other. When I returned from Cameron’s funeral in December of 2013, my car had been hit by a student in the parking garage. I called the police officers to come and write a report. My students were very scared and all left. The officers showed up and looked apprehensive as they knew where I had just come from. But I wasn’t at all, for I know there are officers out there like my friend’s stepfather, who are out there doing good. I told the officers that I was in no way worried about talking to them and that I believed what was needed was a true reconciling. I told them we needed to “hug this out” and they agreed. I think I shocked them when I hugged them when we finished the report and went our separate ways. But that is the kind of person I am. I have an arrogance to justice and in a way, to the values we state in the mission of the Incarnate Word.
So as Cameron’s case carried on, I have remained optimistic, but also vigilant for our mission at UIW. As such, I will admit, I am personally very concerned about the state of affairs in certain areas of administration. My logic and deductive reasoning just cannot compute how we put the letter of the law before the morals and ethics of the Mission of the Incarnate Word and especially before our students.
So here is my call to action. I believe UIW alumni, students, professors, staff, and especially administrators need to re-evaluate their roles within the space. I call you to take a look again at the mission of UIW and to truly measure ourselves up to it.
I personally will be going up for tenure next year, where I will be judged for “institutional fit”. My hope is that we as a community can come together and create a collective understanding of what it means to follow the mission of the Incarnate Word in today’s world. Not because we are paid to, but because we know it is just and there is moral and ethical reasons to.