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Saturday, December 10, 2005

St Cloud Student Government Takes Public Stand Opposed to Bachmann Amendment


A newly-worded version of the student government resolution opposing amendments to the Minnesota Constitution prohibiting marriage or civil unions for same sex couples passed Thursday.

Campus Affairs 001-1 passed with 15 senators voting in favor, three voting against and five senators absent. After abstaining from voting on the former bill, both former president Joe Dolan and vice president Dana Kutcher voted in support of the resolution.

Several groups of students from both sides of the issue presented their points to the body.

Senator Nathan Scheiber and Senator Ryan Birkman coauthored the new resolution. Scheiber was the solo author of the former resolution. The new resolution had eight sponsoring senators and chairs.

Scheiber said the presence of GLBT support at the meeting showed the senators that the issue is of concern to SCSU students. GLBT students and supporters were absent when the former bill was voted down.

"The senators saw how it impacts GLBT students," Scheiber said. "For me, it speaks loudly that we shouldn't give more rights to some people than others."

Scheiber believes the new wording of the bill was an improvement on the old one. He said the main reason it was changed was to fill some gaps found by dissenters of the bill.

Senator Birkman said this version of the bill has stronger wording. He also said the almost unanimity of the vote sends a strong message to Minnesota legislators.

"I'm very happy that as a campus community, we were able to take a stand on the issue," Birkman said.

He said some issues were brought to the table that were left unconsidered last time. One of the new concerns was with faculty and student retention.

"I disagree with those who think this doesn't impact the university," Birkman said. "State universities have lost faculty when legislatures pass anti-human rights bills."

Several senators were on the fence when they arrived at the meeting, Birkman said.

"Senators noticed that people who were there to speak against the bill left before it was voted on," he said. "The people who were against also couldn't answer some of the questions such as, 'How will the bill affect you if it's passed?'"

It was perfectly legal to vote on a similar resolution, Birkman said to those who thought the repeat vote was flawed.

"We could try to pass the same resolution every week if we wanted to," he said.

With the majority of senators voting for the resolution, the body, including Chief Justice Breanna Wilczek, is relieved to see it pass.

"I'm glad it passed," she said. "We need acceptance for all students."

There are some St Cloud Students that are unhappy with the resolution.

The student government has far exceeded reasonable boundaries by proposing a resolution openly stating beliefs on same-sex marriage and equality issues.

This resolution will do little, if anything, to change laws. Instead, it only serves to label the campus and the students attending school here as holding a particular belief. The students who do not hold this belief cannot help but feel ashamed of their school.

Many professors make it clear to students that St. Cloud State University holds no particular set of views because, as they claim, there is no absolute truth; people are right, no matter what they believe. I disagree with that, myself, but it is extremely hypocritical for an allegedly relativistic campus to stand behind select opinions.

A public campus has no more right to support a gay agenda than it does to support a Christian one, a Muslim one, or a Buddhist one. This is because sexual orientation and marriage are in no way detached from religious views. Every religion has something to say about the issue. For example, the Christian Bible is quite clear on the topic in I Corinthians 6:9-10.

I understand that the intention of the resolution is to fight oppression, but taking a stand on such a sensitive issue is bound to oppress somebody.

Those of us who believe that marriage is created by God and intended for a man and a woman have been stared down by this resolution and told that our beliefs contradict the beliefs of the university.

The morals of individual students have been neglected and buried under a single document which speaks for us all without our consent.

If I understand correctly, the resolution put the student government in St Cloud on record opposing amending the constitution to ban gay marriage. This student is perfectly free to go to a church that doesn't recognise gay marriages.

King Banaian isn't happy about the students voting absentee in the upcoming special election. Both the Student Government and the Faculty are encouraging students to vote in their classes.

Politicians are very aware of who votes. In the Minneapolis Mayoral election, Peter McLaughlin paid attention to the 5th ward (where I live), but RT Rybak did not - since people don't vote in large numbers here.