While many people in the Dubuque area know the Rev. Eugene Kutsch from his decades as a priest and social justice advocate, most people probably didn’t know what he meant to Black students at Loras College in the late 1960s.
Now, members of the Loras Class of 1969 are honoring Kutsch for his work on campus during that tumultuous period. This fall, they will unveil a bust of Kutsch to be placed in a prominent location on campus.
Kutsch likely wouldn’t have predicted this day would come when he was fired by the college more than 50 years ago. School officials at that time didn’t like the way Kutsch was advocating for students of color.
But Loras officials of today aren’t afraid to right a wrong from a bygone era.
“Father Kutsch embodies all the attributes one would expect to find in a great priest,” Loras President Jim Collins said in a press release. “He is humble, kind and faithful. He has always advocated for peace, justice and inclusion. ... For Loras, this offers us the long-overdue opportunity to offer well-deserved recognition for Father Kutsch, especially as he stood with our students of color during a very tumultuous time.”
Three cheers for Father Kutsch, for Loras College and for the students of 1969 who circled back to give credit to a Dubuque priest who helped ease their way during a difficult time. Life lessons abound in every aspect of this story.
Credit goes to colleges and universities throughout the tri-states, all of which are making an effort to improve race relations and promote an inclusive culture across their campuses.
Some have hired diversity coordinators. Others have instituted new policies and begun diversity initiatives. Most importantly, conversations are happening between administrators and students, so school officials have a better understanding of what the local college experience is like for minority students.
Colleges long have been places of open dialogue, and they are typically more diverse than the communities in which they reside. But as calls for change echo across the country, it’s wise for these institutions to take that challenge seriously and work toward an improved culture.
While that’s good for the colleges, it’s also good for society. These institutions are preparing young adults for life in the workplace and in our communities. When colleges educate students while embracing diversity and inclusion efforts, that helps prepare the next generation of workers for a world trying to do the same thing.
As more barriers are torn down and racial equity gains traction, young people will be a significant part of the movement. It’s
encouraging to know our area colleges are doing their part to educate the whole student on these important issues of the day.
In another instance of how government operates nothing at all like the real world, the Dubuque County supervisors learned recently that they are not allowed to freeze their own salaries.
Not allowed. By law.
After debating several scenarios to try to reduce wage increases or freeze salaries of county employees, supervisors ultimately decided they would, at least, forego their own raises. After all, with the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue is falling short and expenses are mounting. That much, they could agree on.
Until the county attorney broke the news that Iowa Code won’t allow them to do that. For some reason, it is written into Iowa’s code of law that supervisors cannot freeze their own raises and no one else’s. So they will get the 0.7% wage increase they approved for themselves in March.
It’s only a total of about $1,000, a drop in the bucket of a county budget. But it’s the principle of the thing. Elected officials can’t change their minds and not give themselves a raise during a pandemic?
Ahem, Iowa lawmakers? Can you fix this, please?