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Letter to the Editor

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EDITOR’S NOTE: To submit your own letter to the editor email @[email protected]

 

Most people on campus are aware of Eagles for PRIDE, the LGBTQ+ group focused on creating a community for marginalized members of society, but not everyone is, we’re sure.

History lesson: Eagles for PRIDE is the third iteration of people trying to form a GSA (gay-straight alliance) on AU’s campus for over a decade. Eagles for PRIDE is so far the longest-running group to date, and we take great pride in that fact.

However, Eagles for PRIDE, unlike many groups on campus, is a provisionally chartered group. Most student organizations on campus have full–organization status–this means they receive things like a budget, a bank account, and the university’s stamp of approval to exist. Provisionally chartered groups do not receive those three things. Provisional charters exist to give a group time to prove itself–to prove whether students really want that particular group or not, which manifests itself in members’ attendance and participation.

Most provisionally chartered groups receive a full charter by the end of the academic year they started the process. Eagles for PRIDE is going on the third year of being a provisionally chartered group.

To us, this seems to stem from two things: fear and money. People in power (who have power due to holding donation money) seem to fear the LGBTQ+ community, at least that’s the message we are receiving. They fear the “slippery slope,” as we’ve heard time and time again, due to the common but inappropriate viewpoint that the church is against gay people, so AU should be as well. Setting aside the fact that plenty of Christians don’t discriminate against gay people, what about our famous free speech declaration last year?

As quoted in the article on AU’s website from October 3, 2017, “Although members of the Ashland University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.”

How is it then that our group is at this moment experiencing obstruction and interference with our freedom to express our views? There have been explicit discussions in the past that a GSA would be awarded full organization status if the group took out all references to the LGBTQ+ community, instead focusing on “diversity” as a whole. Today, there are implicit conversations of this.

We might be able to receive full organization status if we tone down our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. But here’s the reality: regardless of the fact that it’s 2018 in other areas of the world while this university seems stuck in 1958, there’s still the university’s commitment to free speech that seems to be in direct contention with the way our group is being treated.

Yet, those organizations with controversial, but right of center ideals, hold full organization status while our group, dedicated to building community for LGBTQ+ students and to educate members of the university community in the hopes of preventing hate crimes and promoting student safety instead (left of center ideals), is going on our third year of limbo and discrimination. There is obvious bias going on, and when the university has made written statements to a commitment to a lack of bias, this feels particularly hypocritical.

As a note, Eagles for PRIDE is not seeking to silence voices critical of the LGBTQ+ community or to prevent speakers from attending campus, nor are we arguing for drastic changes in Ashland University policy. Rather, we are requesting the same rights to assemble and argue for our community (with university approval and recognition) that any other group receives from Ashland University.

 

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