Saturday, December 18, 2004
It's the fact that student insurance at Yale, like a number of other colleges, funds abortions for students, but has no maternity coverage.
Feminists for Life point out:
"When students receive positive results on a pregnancy test, campus health clinic staff too often say ‘I'm sorry' and automatically refer women to abortion clinics," said Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life. "Women need to know the rest of their choices, including single parenting, married parenting, and adoption options."
At Harvard, pro-life students can get a small rebate from the university if they don't want their student fees used to pay for abortions.
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, a nurse practitioner told the student newspaper that most Columbia students who become pregnant choose abortion.
Feminists for Life has developed a college outreach to help women know their options and choices, and not be railroaded into something that they might regret later.
Check their website out here.
Friday, December 17, 2004
In your face telling people they can't have a Christmas tree but you can have a menorah is wrong (happened in Florida and New York).
California allows teaching about Islam that would get them crucified if they were doing it about any Christian group, yet it points up possible ways to deal with the fact that over half the population is religious.
Canceling a concert by a Christian rock group adds to the fire (although not knowing the scope of the program (was it during school? were they going to vet the groups music choices?) makes it hard to know if it were the right choice or not. But the perception of unfairness is also there.
Make room. Even in the public sphere. Especially in the public sphere. The public sphere is where we connect, where we dialog. You cannot expect Catholics to act like atheists, any more than you can expect to make atheists act like catholics, or baptists, or orthodox jews, or any of them to act like Zen Buddhists. Everybody has special things, that make them uniquely them. Things worth knowing about, folkways which make us richer, that don't threaten our security, even if they make us feel uncomfortable.
We have prided ourselves in the US for being able to accomodate, until fairly lately. Now we have a country that is asking the dominant sector to give up stuff they hold very dear so that a minority group isn't discomforted. Room needs to be made for everybody. A wiccan complained in a town in Washington about halloween. They didn't make room, they banned a holiday to make her comfortable. What about the people who enjoy this celebration (and a number of wiccans are in that number, too)? I personally hate celebrating that day, but you don't see me down at the city hall, trying to get it outlawed, because I respect diversity, and understand that in a country with no established religion, all these views are welcome, and customs arise based on these things which become folkways that are cherished. I made room.
Diversity means everybody gets to play, not just those in the minority. It's getting so bad lately that even secular symbols of the holiday, like Christmas trees (which really haven't been used much more than 150 years in the US) are getting banned. Next it will be Santa Claus, because he has roots in St. Nicholas.
Every suit that says we have to pretend that there is no religion in America because someone gets offended blackens the eye of the American politic, making the concept of freedom of choice of belief less free, more constricted, less a part of the American experiement. It may very well blow up in our faces.
Charles Krauthammer is no grinch
To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel ``comfortable'' not only understandably enrages the majority, but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.
The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, America does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.
A mistaken notion has evidently arisen in America in the last half century: That one of the freedoms Americans are guaranteed is the freedom not to reminded of anything they disagree with in the public sphere. Most of the people petitioning for the removal of religious symbols are doing it because they are committed to a certain viewpoint that finds those things irritating. Frequently it's because they want a world free of religion, even if it means stepping on the rights of those who have a religion. This view can start down the slippery slope to persecution, and in some areas may be crossing that line now. When this happens, true diversity is impinged and loses. Freedom doesn't mean freedom from dissent. It means giving everybody a space to dissent, enjoy, discuss, and dialog. Wiccan is welcome, Islam is welcome, Assembly of God is welcome equally. As is Atheist...but all have to respect each other's rights to enjoy the First Amendment. And that means the secularist needs to remember the religious is religious 24/7, every bit as much as the secularist is. And that the marketplace is a center for all ideas, not just yours. It's not an exclusive sphere. There's room for it all.
Another Florida Grinch
The last of the Christmas trees were removed Wednesday after the county attorney said they were religious symbols, said Dan Johnson, assistant county administrator for Public Services.
The county either had to allow all religious symbols or none, he said.
"What you allow for one you must provide for all," Johnson said.
Pasco County, with nearly 400,000 residents, is a fast-growing area that has a mix of rural and urban areas and whose population has grown due to the urban sprawl that has crawled north from Tampa.
The American Center for Law & Justice said the decision was based on a flawed understanding of the law. Senior counsel Francis Manion said Christmas trees are legally considered a secular symbol for the observance of a national holiday: Christmas.
"They don't seem to understand the law, quite frankly, especially in concern with Christmas trees," Manion said.
The center's chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said in a press release that "this is the most extreme example of censorship imaginable."
The center asked the county Tuesday to reverse the decision.
Johnson said the decision would stand through the holidays, but it would be reviewed next year and he welcomed advice.
"If they have something, I wouldn't mind getting it," Johnson said, explaining that he would pass any information along to the county attorney.
Johnson said he heard from dozens of people who were unhappy with the decision.
"Christmas is a federal holiday, Christmas is a widespread tradition and I think the attempt to remove any decorations that refer to Christmas or the nativity are simply ridiculous," said Gary Hatrick, 47, associate editor at the Zephyrhills News in Pasco County.
Previously, the county allowed the display of Christmas trees, but not religious symbols, Johnson said. Recently, a man wanted to display a menorah at a public building. He said that when the county attorney investigated whether the menorah could be displayed, the attorney decided that Christmas trees were also religious symbols.
Pasco County is just north of the Tampa area on Florida's gulf coast.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Planned Parenthood has very little to do with Parenting
Did you know that Planned Parenthood alone was responsible for nearly 250,000 abortions in the US last year?.
Other interesting facts about PP:
-- Planned Parenthood took in an estimated $104 million from its surgical abortion business, accounting for over one-third of its $302.6 million clinic income.
-- Planned Parenthood aborted 138 children for every adoption referral to an outside agency. During Gloria Feldt's first full year as president of PPFA (1997), the group's abortion/adoption ratio was 18:1. Under Feldt, abortions have consistently increased and adoption referrals have decreased.
-- Even after 18-year-old Holly Patterson was killed by complications from an RU-486 abortion at Planned Parenthood, the organization sold the dangerous abortion pill over 95,000 times at 203 of its clinics, including 49 that began selling the pill last year though they do not do surgical abortions.
-- Elected officials gave PPFA a record $265.2 million, nearly 33 percent of its $810 million total income.
-- For the 18th year in a row, Planned Parenthood turned a net profit. This year's $35.2 million brings its total profits over the 18 years to $538 million.
PP isn't really about parenthood, it's about death. And they've made half a billion dollars off of it, too.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Cause and Effect: Abortion Ripples
Some women find healing. Some look for justification.
"I'm not so sure that abortion rights advocates are primarily concerned about the political consequences." writes Emily at After Abortion. "My sense is that those abortion rights advocates who are post-abortive are primarily upset because of the implicit moral judgment on their past choices. 43% of American women have had one or more abortions by the time their reproductive years end. I would guess that the percentage is higher among abortion rights activists. If I were in those shoes, and I heard a leading Democrat say "we don't like abortion", I'd take this personally."
Yet for all their angst and attitude about what was done as a good choice, nothing to be squeamish over, most of America sees this as a bad thing.
According to a recent nationwide survey of 1,001 Americans conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, 61 percent felt that "abortion is almost always a bad thing for a woman." In contrast, 23 percent stated is "almost always a good thing." The Wirthlin poll coincides with the results of another survey conducted by the Elliott Institute in December 2002, which found that 52 percent thought abortion makes women's lives worse, whereas only 16 percent believed it makes women's live better.
Perhaps it's not just the knowledge that each one of these events costs a life. Perhaps it's seeing what it has done to the mothers (yes, and fathers, too) who have made these decisions and what happens to them after the event that help shape the viewpoint. All the might have beens that can never be reclaimed, because a life was taken to make sure it would never become reality. It takes its psychic toll on life, like all decisions do, but this is one where finding justification for actions by continuing an outlook pays a very high price.
I heard today that 3/4ths of the presidents elected since Roe v. Wade have been pro-life. There are political costs. Loss of potential voters, both from the attrition of not being here, and also from those who won't vote for a good candidate who clings to the pro-abortion party line. There are recovery issues, like denying that women can have post abortion depression. There are psychic issues, like dealing with the fact that a woman in a time of crisis did something that so many people find not only distasteful, but potentially evil, or denying late trimester D&C abortions pain relief, because that would acknowledge their humanness.
Like many people, I feel abortion is a wrong that hurts, hurts the innocent, but also hurts the mother. It causes such pain and loss because like a pebble cast into water, it ripples out over the months and years with effects.
This is why choosing life matters. Choosing life doesn't mean no abortion, although that's part of it. It means respect for life, the life of a person in a crisis, the life of a person who perhaps made a decision that will take healing, love and care. Life is a gift, not a container for anger of wrongs perceived, but of pontential and joy and hope and wisdom and care to be passed down from the older to the younger, like a great glowing string of pearls.
All the things we do that are anti-life, abortion, hate, anger, murder, the traditional great sins, turning our backs on others, muddies that string of pearls, dampens its glow, and makes it less.
This is what so many are perceiving with abortion.
Abstinance, ACLU and Students who talk the faith talk
Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, a Democrat, responded to charges by the American Civil Liberties Union that Louisiana’s abstinence program is promoting religion in violation of a 2002 court settlement, saying that images of a man and woman being married by a priest are simply reflective of the vision of marriage held by the majority of Louisiana’s citizens.
In 2002 there was a court settlement to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU claiming that the Louisiana Government’s Program on Abstinence was funding overtly religious education programs.
Now, reports Kevin McGill of Associated Press, the ACLU is pointing to links on the Abstinence Program’s website, AbstinenceEdu.com, to websites with faith-based content.
Gov. Blanco responded by saying that the links do not violate the settlement, because the articles were not composed by the Abstinence program, and a notice was added next to the links indicating whether or not they had faith-based content.
Commenting on an ACLU complaint about an online question and answer forum in whch religious views were expressed by some participants, Gov. Blanco said "if these young people choose to discuss their faith in God as a motivating factor in their abstinence decision, they are well within their rights under the Constitution."
She also commented on a ACLU complaint about a script for a skit called “The Wedding,” which makes references to God, saying that "like most Louisiana citizens, I believe that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. Therefore, I do not believe it inappropriate for the website to portray a couple being married by a religious leader which, after all, is the way the overwhelming majority of our citizens are married in this state under its laws."
"This promotes no specific religious belief,” she said, “It is merely reflective of reality."
Louisiana ACLU director Joe Cook said that "We still believe that we're on firm legal grounds. People can certainly base their decision about engaging in sexual activity on religious beliefs but the government cannot convey that message and use tax funds as a vehicle to do it."
Source: Catholic News Agency
It sure looks like that the ACLU is trying not for neutrality in religious matters, but to establish atheism as the state religion. Episodes like this really make people draw that assumption.
Another Scrooge Strikes in the Christmas Wars!
BELLEVUE -- The latest flare-up over Christmas trees in public places has longtime Bellevue chiropractor and resident Sidney Stock protesting the large tree standing in the lobby of City Hall.
The tree is a symbol of Christianity, Stock and his wife, Jennifer, told City Council members this week. They said it is inappropriate to display symbols of any religion in a public place.
Their objection follows a recent flap over Christmas trees at branch libraries in the King County Library System, which first banned trees then decided to allow them at the discretion of branch librarians.
``I think it's inappropriate,'' Stock said on Tuesday about the tree. ``It devalues our separation of religion and state.
``People have a right to put all the Christmas trees and decorations and crosses and Stars of David they choose in their home, church, synagogue or mosque, and that's fine. They can put it on a shirt or Roller blades if the want. But I deeply resent the intrusion of anybody's religion into public space.''
City spokeswoman Barbara Ramey, however, said the mostly unadorned Season of Sharing tree, as it is called, is designed to encourage people to donate gifts and cash for needy families.
She said Bellevue's policy is consistent with state and federal laws regarding the separation of church and state.
But Stock isn't buying that. The fundamental issue, he says, is that public funds are being spent, if not directly, for a religious symbol.
``It doesn't make a bit of difference. No matter if it's called a giving tree or anything else, it is associated with a Christian holiday,'' said Stock, who describes himself as both an atheist and a committed Jew.
``It has unseverable connections to the Christmas holiday. No matter how commercial it becomes, it remains a Christian holiday.''
Jennifer Stock said she grew up in England, ``where Christianity is the religion of the country. But my understanding of the U.S. is that it was to get away from all that stuff,'' she said.
``We have one religion represented in public places and none of the others, because you couldn't represent all of them.
``Our argument is we shouldn't have any religious symbols at all. It should be respectful of everybody.''
Sidney Stock said he is satisfied that some progress has been made on the issue of displaying religious symbols at City Hall.
Ramey said ``Christmas trees, though the name might imply otherwise, have been deemed a non-Christian symbol.''
She noted that each year the City Hall tree draws more than 800 contributions worth $16,000 to $25,000.
Bellevue strives to be inclusive, she said, and wants to allow freedom of expression without offending anyone.
Ramey said an employees' committee studied the issue of religious symbols this year.
In an e-mail sent to city employees in early November, the city's personnel director, Yvonne Tate, acknowledged the committee's input and wrote of the ``importance of being sensitive to the diversity of cultures and beliefs.''
She asked, via e-mail, that employees ``use discretion and sensitivity when displaying decoration symbols to ensure there is not an overt religious theme. Ideally, use lights, seasonal colors, flowers, etc., for decorations versus religious symbols.''
David Grant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4237.
Something to remember
From First Coast News, which also has pictures and video
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A Christmas tree that decorated the lobby in new federal courthouse downtown has been removed.I am offended that a court would consider that my being offended at the removal of holiday symbols, especially one as non-religious as a Christmas tree doesn't count as much as the offense as someone who doesn't like or feel like celebrating the holiday season, particularly since this is a recognized federal holiday. We're not talking about a nativity scene here, folks. We're talking about an artificial tree with non-religious ornaments, which is the main non-religious symbol of the holiday in this country.
Late last week the Government Services Administration, the agency that maintains the building, acted on direction from the Chief Judge to pull the tree. A lighted snowman, reindeer and sleigh has replaced the tree.
A spokesperson for the GSA could not give specifics on why the tree was taken down. Gary Mote who handles Public Affairs from the Southeast Sunbelt Region says the decision was to "...make sure no one is offended."
The artificial tree that was decorated with non religious ornaments has been placed in storage.
If you would like to make your opinion known on this particular issue, here is some contact information:
United States Courthouse
300 North Hogan Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
The Honorable Harvey E. Schlesinger
(there are more justices. Check the website.)
Webpage for the Floria Middle District Federal Courts
GSA's homepage is:
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
A 19-year old girl, “Leyla M”, who has a mental age of eight, reportedly faces imminent execution for “morality-related” offences after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.
Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of “acts contrary to chastity” by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently “confessed” to the charges. Earlier reports stated that there would be an appeal, and the 28 November report indicates that this process is now at an end.
Social workers have reportedly tested her mental capacities repeatedly and each time have found Leyla to have a mental age of eight. However, she has apparently never been examined by the court-appointed doctors, and was sentenced to death solely on the basis of her explicit confessions, without consideration of her background or mental health.
Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his “temporary wife”. His mother became her new pimp, “selling her body without her consent”.
At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this “temporary marriage”, her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leyla’s customers come to his house.
The newspaper report makes no mention of her family or the men to whom she was married. In Iranian law, in a case of “intercourse with a blood relative” both parties are considered culpable, but only Leyla M has been referred to in the reports of which Amnesty International is aware.
So this justice system believes that a person who has been sexually abused since she was a small girl, who is mentally challenged, to the point where she cannot make adult level decisions, and has known very little but people using her body is guilty of sins against chastity.
When was she ever given a chance to be a chaste woman?
What about her mother, who pimped her as a youngling? Does not justice cry out for punishing a woman who would do this to her daughter?
What sort of judges believe that people like her can be truly guilty when forced by those around her to do these things?
What about the husbands who bought her to use?
What sort of justice is this?
Monday, December 13, 2004
Ran across this piece about the liberal abortion rights policy, which sort of ties in to this at a larger, macro level:
By Hans Zeigler
According to the Census Bureau, the 2004 Voting Age Population was 217.8 million. Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, over 40 million documented abortions have occurred. And of those aborted Americans, 18,336,576 would have been at least 18-years old on November 2. John Kerry lost the popular vote by only 3,461,992 ballots. Kerry could have used another 18 million votes - five times his margin of defeat. That isn't to say that all 18 million citizens would have voted for Kerry, or voted at all, but given the power of parental influence the chances are likely that these aborted Americans would have been a major Democrat constituency.
What's more troubling for Democrats is that by 2008, the deficit in their Voting Age Population will have risen to 24,408,960 - those who were aborted between 1973 and 1990. "Liberals have been remarkably blind to the fact that every day the abortions they advocate dramatically decrease their power to do so," writes Larry Eastland in the American Spectator.
Wirthlin polling conducted a recent study of 2,000 Americans to determine political connections to abortion. Democrats reported having a close relationship with someone who had an abortion at 49.37 percent, while only 35 percent of Republicans said that they were close to someone who had an abortion. Projecting these percentages onto the total numbers of abortion since 1973, Eastland found that there are 19.7 million missing Democrats and 13.9 million missing Republicans. Democrats are at a disadvantage by 5.84 million missing voters.
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal has referred to these trends as the Roe Effect.
"Abortion is making America more conservative than it otherwise would be," writes Taranto. First, "liberal and Democratic women are more likely to have abortions." Second, "children's political views tend to reflect those of their parents - not exactly, of course, and not in every case, but on average. Thus abortion depletes the next generation of liberals and eventually makes the population more conservative."
Liberal author Philip Longman concludes in a recent Washington Post article that the "empty cradle" is a result of evolutionary natural selection. "When secular-minded Americans decide to have few, if any, children, they unwittingly give a strong evolutionary advantage to the other side of the culture divide."
To suggest that abortion has a very real impact on cultural trends is neither evolutionary nor, from a conservative point of view, worthy of celebration. The murder of a human being is equally wrong whether he or she is born to a liberal or to a conservative, to an anarchist or to a communist. And the survival of certain individuals over others says nothing about the comparative worth of one person over another. The abortion of one child does not indicate that his genes were less favorable than his peer's. America is built on the principle of equality: that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That principle is not predicated on the biological evolution of the human species. Quite to the contrary, it is founded on the belief that God has made every soul in His image.
The rejection of that most fundamental truth, the founding principle of America, is the death wish of the American Left. Liberals have not only failed to reproduce, they are quite literally killing themselves.
Sad. Slow cultural suicide. Watching a person anger or grieve themselves to death is always a sad thing. Watching a cultural movement prove to be a dead end, when much of it is good and worth learning about is also sad. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may look back and say to their professors, but why did they do that? And their professors may say, "Why indeed?"
(A slightly different version of this essay posted at Knitting a Conundrum)
Another University forgets the First Amendment
What is it about universities, the place where you are supposed to go and learn and experience a wide variety of ideas have become such bastions of unfree thinking? The University of Alabama, has joined the ranks of those who think that the First Amendment doesn't apply to colleges and universities. Mike S. Adams writes:
Professor Holt’s new campus speech code is so overly broad and vague that it stands no chance of passing constitutional muster if fully implemented and challenged. I am one of many who will not rest until a war against this initiative is fully engaged in both the court of public opinion and in a court of law. When clearly unnecessary and illegal speech codes are drafted for purposes of intimidation, justice demands no less.Mike S. Adams writes:The one place true freedom of speech might once have been expected to be found was at schools of higher learning. This, over and over again, is proving to be no longer the case. Our young people, the ones who are supposed to carry the torch we pass them down to future generations are the ones who are being denied. And short changed by the likes of Professor Holt, in the name of some political idealism. And that is very sad.
Wythe Holt, like so many others in academia, fails to understand that free expression is process, not a result. Public discourse cannot be rigged to guarantee certain results for certain groups contingent upon their present popularity with the powers that be.
Our constitution demands that the government remain uninvolved in the marketplace of ideas whenever possible. Whenever government involvement in matters of free expression is necessary, it must take the form of facilitation that is viewpoint neutral. It cannot take the form of manipulation that is ideologically motivated.
Put simply, our commitment to the First Amendment is best shown when we reluctantly support those who contradict our views, not when we enthusiastically support those who share them.
It appeared for a time that Wythe Holt understood that principle. But now the public knows better. Because of his actions, precious freedoms are in danger at Alabama’s flagship institution. Come to think of it, this isn’t the first time.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
"We can't be silenced," he said. "We are not marching against folks. We are marching for folks."
Thousands of Christian soldiers marched through one of Atlanta's most storied neighborhoods Saturday, opposing gay marriage and promoting what they see as a moral agenda for the country — especially African-Americans.
Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, led the march arm-in-arm with the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Long organized the demonstration and carried an Olympic-style torch lighted from the eternal flame at the King Center, where the march began.
Among the throng were a troupe of step-dancing young women clad in camouflage and many New Birth members, who wore black shirts with the words "Stop the Silence" written across the front. Some 40 members of the Nation of Islam, in their trademark dark suits and bowties, jogged down the sidewalk to add their support.
As the group marched through Sweet Auburn, the Atlanta neighborhood that nurtured the civil rights movement, about 50 counterdemonstrators lined Auburn Avenue.
The gay rights group sang, "In the name of Jesus, hate has to go," and chanted, "Not the dream of Dr. King." One person held a sign that read "Bigots Go Back to Lithonia."
But the march ended peacefully.
Long, whose church claims 25,000 members, told his supporters it was time for the black community to be heard.
"We can't be silenced," he said. "We are not marching against folks. We are marching for folks."
According to New Birth's Web site, the march advocated "a constitutional amendment to fully protect marriage between one man and one woman." But some who participated said gay marriage was only one of the issues motivating them.
Some people no doubt will say Long is just currying favor with the Republican administration, but
Polls show that almost three-quarters of African-Americans — a larger percentage than Americans as a whole — believe the nation is losing its "moral compass" by removing prayer from public schools and banning display of the Ten Commandments on government property.
Many African-Americans have also expressed support for comedian Bill Cosby, who has crisscrossed the country with a call for black parents to take greater responsibility for their families and their communities — although Cosby has his share of critics.
Claudine Cheatem, who moved to Atlanta two months ago to be a part of Long's church, said she joined the march because she wants to promote a world where African-Americans take responsibility for their actions and stop the violence and poverty that entrap them.
If it's not grass roots, people wanting this, it won't work, but it is good to see that people who care are willing to be seen caring! That is the American way.
ALUMNI PROTEST COERCIVE PROPERTY TAKINGS AT COLGATE UNIVERSITY
When the shennanigans get wild enough to get the alumni involved, it's an interesting story. I particularly find it offensive that a university would tell a student what organizations he can or cannot be a member of.
Students & Alumni for Colgate, Inc.
P.O. Box 30 Hamilton, NY 13346
NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 9, 2004
INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Burtt, sa4c executive director 303.722.9958 email@example.com
ALUMNI PROTEST COERCIVE PROPERTY TAKINGS AT COLGATE UNIVERSITY
Colgate Demands Sale of Greek Houses with Threat of Elimination; Colgate Trustees Renege on Promise of DKE Temple Library Autonomy
HAMILTON, NY (December 9) – Several hundred alumni and current students of Colgate University have organized to protest the coercive property takings of Greek-letter fraternity and sorority houses by Colgate University. The group is organized as Students & Alumni for Colgate, Inc. (www.sa4c.com) and was founded by Colgate alumnus Charles H. “Tim” Sanford.
As a key component of the University’s “New Vision for Campus Culture,” the Colgate Board of Trustees and administration have demanded that all privately owned fraternity and sorority houses be sold to the school, or their chapter will no longer be recognized. Further, any student joining a non-recognized chapter may be subject to suspension or expulsion.
The Residential New Vision anticipates that University-owned Greek-letter houses will become the Broad Street Community and serve as “theme” houses. Current theme houses are designed as residences for students who want to live with others who share a common interest or background – Asian, African-American, Latino, homosexuality, creative arts, environmental activism, and peace studies.
Soon, Colgate is expected to announce which Greek-letter organizations have signaled their acquiescence to a deal to sell their house. But, the contracts must be ratified by a quorum of fraternity or sorority alumni and student members. Colgate has named a March 15, 2005 deadline for ratification.
Fraternities involved include Phi Delta Theta, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Delta Rho, Theta Chi, Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Chi, Delta Kappa Epsilon. Sororities involved include Gamma Phi Beta, and Kappa Alpha Theta.
“Fraternities have been an integral part of Colgate since 1856. They provide a meaningful experience and positive lifelong friendships. For many years, the administration and faculty have been determined to eliminate fraternities and sororities,” said Sanford. “Taking control of the houses is the next step in that effort. There is no other credible rationale for these coercive property takings. We must take a stand now, or lose a valuable part of the spirit that is Colgate.”
-more- sa4c page two Dec. 9, 2004
Sanford is a 1958 Colgate graduate, with membership in Phi Delta Theta. He served on the Alumni board and the Colgate Board of Trustees. He is a Trustee Emeritus and benefactor of the Charles H. Sanford Field House. Both of his sons and daughters-in-law and brother attended Colgate.
“Fraternity and sorority members consistently have a higher GPA than the rest of the student body and provide the most public service hours per individual to the community. The fraternities and sororities are the basis for most social activity on campus – and that includes our non-Greek friends,” notes Colgate Senior Sean Fitzmichael Devlin, a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. “It’s a network that will be valuable far beyond my academic studies here.”
Acting in good faith, and believing there was no option but to sell the houses to ensure the continuation of the Greek-letter organizations, various letters of intent have been agreed to between the individual fraternities, sororities and the University. In each instance, the University raised their initial offer to a price equal to far less than half of the replacement value. In several cases, the school had proposed that all proceeds from the sale be gifted back to the University.
In no instance has the school guaranteed the right of the fraternities or sororities to continue to exist on campus. Rather, the school has devised a formula of minimum occupancy by Greek-letter members in “their” house in order to retain an exclusive right for fraternity or sorority members to live there. The University prohibits pledging of new members until their sophomore year.
Signing Colgate’s offer to purchase gives up a great deal more than just the real estate. Hidden in the documents are measures that give Colgate University dictatorial power over the operations and future viability of fraternities and sororities. It would allow an unfriendly Colgate administration to eliminate the system entirely without legal recourse. The Colgate “New Vision” mandates that all students live in University-owned housing. Colgate is in the construction stages of a new housing complex. Once completed, it is unclear whether a current discriminatory practice of allowing an elite group of 250 students to live off-campus in private housing will continue.
Reneging on a Promise After weeks of bargaining in good faith, the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) Alumni Corporation received a Final Offer to Purchase from Colgate University. Contrary to all previous assurances, the contract included a demand for the sale or right of first refusal of the DKE Temple Library to Colgate University. The clause was slipped into the purchase document at the 11th hour with no prior discussion and made a non-negotiable condition. Owned by the charitable MU of DKE Foundation, (and not the Alumni Corporation, owners of the fraternity house), the Temple Library is the oldest facility of its kind in continual use in the United States. It took five years to build by students and members of the faculty and was completed in 1877. It is designated an historical site by the New York State Historical Registry. It is a meeting venue, not a residence.
-more- sa4c page three Dec. 9, 2004
Thomas P. Halley, chairman of the MU of DKE Foundation and Colgate class president 1973, stated that he was present at a meeting on August 14, 2003 at the University Club of New York where he personally asked Colgate President Rebecca Chopp if the DKE Temple Library was involved in the Broad Street Community program. She replied, “absolutely not.”
Halley said, “I have monitoring these so-called negotiations since August 2003. From what I can see, the Greek houses have engaged in give-and-take, while the University has adhered strictly to its original position. The fraternities and sororities have proposed every possible alternative, while Colgate’s position has remained immutable. I have negotiated more than one hundred contracts in my career. I find this hard-nosed unwillingness to seek a compromise, coupled with last minute demands, to represent the utmost in bad faith on the part of Colgate.”
If the University eliminates the fraternities and sororities in the future (as is assumed by sa4c), there would eventually be no more living Colgate DKEs, and the Foundation would be forced to sell to Colgate. The University’s demand guarantees their eventual ownership of the Temple Library even if they themselves eliminate fraternities at Colgate.
John Wilson is a former trustee, a 20-year member of the Alumni board, a lifetime member of the President’s Club and member of the board of the MU of DKE Foundation. Nine members of his immediate family have attended Colgate. “My devotion to Colgate stems from my father’s 72 year allegiance to his – and my alma mater,” he said. “I’ve spent more than 50 years serving Colgate and I’ve never seen such shameful behavior on the part of the Board of Trustees and the administration. Their coercive behavior to forcibly take private property against the owner’s will through threats of elimination is outrageous. It is an insult to the entire Colgate community. Many would call this blackmail.”
“After more than a year of negotiating in good faith with the Colgate Board of Trustees and administration, there is still no understanding on their part of the value of fraternities and sororities to Colgate students,” said Tim Sanford. “Now we’re forced to use more confrontational methods to convince the board of trustees, led by Chairman John Golden, President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of the College Adam Weinberg to rescind their capricious action. We’re asking potential donors – alumni, foundations, corporations, students and others – to delay their contributions until the New Vision for Campus Culture is adjusted to respect the important contributions made by fraternity and sorority members to Colgate.”
www.sa4c.com has been visited by more than 7,100 people since its launch in late October, 2004. At least two hundred students and alumni have contacted the organization indicting their support and willingness to publicly endorse the efforts of Students & Alumni for Colgate, Inc.