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“Powers Promotes Preposterous Resolution to be Ratified Regarding Racism!"
During the Student Government Board (SGB) meeting last Thurs, Nov 30, 06, board member Will Powers introduced a resolution against bigotry, discrimination, intolerance, and racism that he wanted the board to pass. The board however voted 4 – 3 with one member abstaining to table the resolution until the Thursday of Dec. 06, 06.
The majority of the board with the consent of SGB president Joe Pasqualichio did not want to approve a resolution against bigotry, discrimination, intolerance, and racism without having enough time to discuss it privately among themselves. It appears that the resolution was placed in the hands of the board members right before the board went into session.
Those who wanted to hold off on the vote felt they were accused of racism because they did not want to pass the resolution. The discussion got so heated that few board members could not keep their cool after the accusations. The resolution is supposed to come up for vote again this Thurs, Dec 07, 06 between the hours of 8:45 p.m. – 10:45 p.m. during the last SGB meeting of the current board, after amendments to the resolution have been made.
There are two issues that Pittsburgh Standard wants to address regarding this resolution against bigotry, discrimination, intolerance, and racism.
Issue 1: Whether or not board members should pass this resolution!
Issue 2: Whether or not board members who refuse to pass this resolution against should be labeled racist, bigoted, intolerant, and discriminatory.
Why would anyone vote against passing a resolution against discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, and racism?
On the surface, anyone would think that this resolution should have passed 8-0 unanimously without tabling it for next week but it was tabled because few board members did not agree with all aspects of the resolution that Powers wanted to pass nor did they feel a resolution that is just the opinion of one member of the board should pass without further discussion and amendments to the resolution that all board members could agree upon.
Those who voted against passing the resolution that night were right in their judgment and decision. The board members were elected by their constituents to represent all the non-CGS students and their organizations. They did not want to frivolously pass a resolution against without having amendments to it which is reasonable.
Powers resolution is not just to state that discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, and racism exist on this campus and the board should help the students who feel the sting of those. If that were the case, no board member would have had a problem with the resolution.
Who does not want to fight racism, discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry?
The problem with Powers resolution is that he wants the board to go a step further and approve a resolution that gives authority to the diversity committee to police the different student organizations for discrimination, intolerance, racism, and bigotry. If evidence of this is found in any of the student organizations then Powers wants recommendations made to allocations committee to refuse funding from the activities fee to those student organizations.
Once again on the surface, this does not seem a bad idea until people’s interpretations are used to classify an organization as discriminatory, intolerant, racist, or bigoted.
Once an organization or leaders of that organization are labeled with those names, then that organization is in danger of losing funding from the student activities fees or in danger of becoming decertified even though leaders of that organization do not believe they are discriminatory, intolerant, racist, or bigoted!
When a student organization is certified to be recognized and registered on campus, they have to submit a constitution and the actions of the organization should reflect what is in their constitution and the purpose of their organization.
When you take that into account, it is possible that an organization can be labeled discriminatory, racist, bigoted, or intolerant from a member of the diversity committee who does not agree with the organizations purpose. It could also be labeled that way by members of the board and put that organization in jeopardy of losing their certified status.
It should not be that way and university administrators and courts have ruled in favor of organizations who stick to their purpose and mission statement referred to in their constitution.
Many years ago at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) chapter was in danger of losing their certification status because they would not agree to have non-Christians as leaders of the organization which a particular person did not agree with. As I thought about that person, it reminded me of Powers.
The issue at hand there was that the organization was being discriminatory and intolerant because they would not agree to have a non-Christian be the leader of a Christian student organization at CMU.
The student/s that brought the suit lost and the university administration did not decertify IVCF. The university administration agreed that it is the right of a Christian student organization to limit its leadership roles to those who espouse the ideals and tenets of the organizations vision, purpose, and mission statement.
During that time the vision of IVCF was to engage the campus in all its ethnic diversity with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism, discipleship, and prayer. That vision would not have been possible having a non-Christian leader run a Christian student organization that follows the principles leadership characteristics of the Bible.
The university did not buy the discrimination and intolerant argument from the accuser/s. Leaders of IVCF were labeled that at the time but just because they were labeled that did not make them wrong. So, it is possible to be discriminatory and intolerant and yet be in the right even for this board.
If Powers resolution passes, this resolution will be a problem at the University of Pittsburgh because that is what it will come down to. All that is needed is for one student to make an unfounded accusation against an organization to be non-funded because in their mind they perceive that organization to be discriminatory, racist, intolerant, or bigoted.
If someone wanted to, any student organization can be labeled according to one of the four categories such as discriminatory, racist, intolerant, or bigoted but that does not make that organization or leaders of that organization in the wrong.
If you answer yes to any of the questions, ask yourself if you believe that organization is in the wrong because I do not.
1. Is Black Action Society (BAS) racist and discriminatory if it caters primarily to the African-American student population at Pitt?
2. Is Asian Student Alliance (ASA) racist and discriminatory if it caters primarily to the Asian student population at Pitt?
3. Is Pitt Program Council intolerant to the religious views of Catholics and Christians because they showed the controversial movie, ‘Da Vinci Code’ which a lot of Catholics and Christians have opposed because it defames the name of Jesus Christ?
4. Was Pitt Program Council racist, when they brought Chief Darryl Gates of the L.A. police to speak after the Rodney King riots?
5. Was IVCF discriminatory and intolerant because they wanted only Christians who aspire to the ideals of the Bible as their leaders?
6. Is the Men’s Glee Club discriminatory because they only have men singing in their club?
7. Is the Pittsburgh Standard discriminatory because we want our top leaders to be followers of Christ and espouse to the ideals and aspirations of the Bible?
8. Is the Pittsburgh Standard intolerant because we have written articles against the act of pre-marital sex, abortion, alcoholism, etc?
9. Is the Pittsburgh Standard bigoted because we do not agree with homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, and are very evangelical conservative in our writings?
10. Is the Pittsburgh Standard discriminatory, bigoted, and intolerant because of our view points that are based on us using the Word of God, scientific research, or medical research in our writings?
Just because someone answers ‘yes’ to all of the questions above does not make those organizations bad or in the wrong as long as they are following their constitution and the purpose of their organization when it was certified. Remember no organization will be certified without following the university student code of conduct. Where discrimination, racism, intolerance, and bigotry are seen, the organization should be seen in light of what their purpose is.
On that light this resolution has serious implications if passed and therefore should not pass 7 – 1 if it is still the resolution brought forward by Powers. However, if the resolution is amended to not allow the diversity committee to police organizations and then bring recommendation to the allocations committee regarding their funding, then there should be no problem for this resolution to pass and should pass 8-0.
No member of the board should feel the student body would think of them as racist, intolerant, discriminatory, or bigoted if they vote down Powers resolution. Even if members of the student body do think of you as racist, discriminatory, intolerant, or bigoted because they voted Powers resolution down, they should not let that get to them.
The board cannot please everyone and not everyone will be happy with every vote cast. The important thing is that they know what they are doing is right and that you want to tackle discrimination, racism, intolerance, and bigotry if rightly defined.
Students need to know that their SGB cares for issues of intolerance, discrimination, bigotry, and racism if they are defined in the right way and exists to address those issues just as they addressed the issue of ‘White Action Society’.
Student organizations at the same time should not feel they will be persecuted by SGB and its diversity and allocations committee because of their purpose and mission statement.
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