Oh dear. I'm afraid Tony Lehman is not so happy with me at the moment. I have been outspoken in my criticism of Josh Hevtvelt. Tony would want me to be much more patient and forgiving. Tony would remind me that we are men and women for others. Tony would challenge me to be generous. And Tony would be exactly right.
But there is an excellent case to be made that Josh Heytvelt should go quietly in the night. He should leave campus and restart his life in another community where he would survive solely on his character and his personal merits, not on his height and potential as a elite basketball player.
Just what did Josh do that caused student body and alumni alike to turn their back on him? He turned his back on us. A Jesuit education is a serious commitment. At Gonzaga, it costs in excess of $35,000 to attend school there for one year. Families take on second jobs, go deep into debt and scrabble together every resource possible to see that kids get to go to Gonzaga. The alumni raise a great deal of money each year and give over 20 scholarships. The application pool is staggering. We fund a pitiful few compared to the need. The alumni have funded most of the beautiful new buildings on campus including the MAC, the Rosauer, the Jundt, the law school and the library, to name a few. Mostly, when you commit to a Jesuit education it becomes a life long commitment, although you don't know it when you sign on.
Neither Josh or his large, loving extended family will ever know the sacrifice and the tenancity that many families undergo in connection with a Gonzaga education. That's because Josh is a full scholarshipped DI athlete, driving a brand new SUV around town. Many of the students I talk to tell me that they are afraid that very image is what people will think Gonzaga students are. None of the students that work in my office drive to work; know why? They don't have cars. They walk from the Gonzaga campus to downtown Spokane to work to pay tuition. They are at the top of their game, too. All have been on the President's List every semester at Gonzaga. That would give them a collective GPA of at least a 3.7. On the nights before big tests, they are at home, studying hard. They all express impatient disbelief that Josh would be in Cheney at midnight the night before a big, big game, in possession of felony drugs to boot. They do not think that Josh honors the Gonzaga experience, but rather think he's a spoiled, privileged brat, not old enough or willing enough to understand what's at stake.
The alumni tend to agree. But we have also been around long enough to remember what the Jesuits taught us then, as now: we are men and women for others. It's easy to be compassionate with crack addicts in the South Bronx or the homeless in Los Angeles; we know, though, that compassion should show no probation and that even immature, cocksure basketball players deserve forgiveness and redemption. We know this. And so we lean heavily upon the shoulders of the collared men that show us the way. Like Tony Lehman.
The Catholic Church is not a democracy. It is not run by acclaim or by popular vote. But rather in accordance with the principles of our faith; and in this case, Ignatian Spirituality. Reflective, contemplative time each and every day to examine how best to live as an authentic human being is absolute. And it's this reflection that I would really like to see from Josh and his family. It appears that, one way or another, his legal problems are over. What's next? I hope the family that stepped up four-square for him are encouraging Josh to think about how best he can live a whole life, where he can be the best father, son and relative possible.
We know, too, that we are mandated to see the potential in all; but we would be foolish not to acknowledge cruelty, injustice, and abuse. The struggle between good and evil lives in each one of us each day and it's our job to decide anew, every day, how best we can be men and women for others and what is the highest use of our service.
We will not turn our back on Mark Few and the program. Josh Heytvelt can't take away what Gonzaga has given us, then or now. Or never. But we will be thinking about justice and all of the students that attend Gonzaga and their passion, ambition, potential and divineness. Because in each and every one of them, even Josh Heytvelt, lies the face of God. And it is all these faces whose talents should be rewarded and who should be given every opportunity to build this world in faith, justice, peace and love. And Tony would think that's just right.
The 'Kan EWA