Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.05.24
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Inside Higher Ed – Gay in the Academy
2. AlumniUnit.com - Gay rights making gains in UNC system HBCUs
3. UVA Today - Sisson Named Ally of the Year in U.Va.'s Gay Community
4. Huffington Post - Gay Graduates and the New American Dream
5. The Dartmouth - Comm. approves gay marriage bill changes
6. Columbia Spectator - Senior Profile: Joseph Daniels, CC
7. The Gazette - UCCS student president will run for county commission
8. MSNBC – Liberty Univ. Expels Campus Democrats
1. Inside Higher Ed, May 18, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Gay in the Academy
We can be truly astounded by how rapidly general attitudes have shifted toward GLBTQ people over the past decade. As conditions have improved in the nation, so too has the academic world become a bit better for scholars who identify as G, L, and sometimes Q (though there is still a long way to go for B and especially T). Because things have generally become better, some might imagine that GLBTQ scholars who enter the job market don’t have significantly different concerns than any other candidate scrambling to assemble a dossier. Alas, we must remember that a transition from overt hostility to disinterested apathy isn’t exactly a triumph of social justice.
Don’t tell Larry Kramer, but I am going to use "queer" as a convenient umbrella term for the rest of this post. After a certain point, it’s just easier.
Certainly queer scholars share the major concerns of every person on the academic market, primarily, “Will I actually get a job?” Yet, being queer in the academy also carries its own set of challenges (and rewards – but why focus on the positive?).
Unlike racial minorities or women, [white] queer [male] scholars have not necessarily been absent from the academy in relation to their percentage of the overall population. Historically, people of color (hetero or otherwise) and women (of color or otherwise, hetero or otherwise) have been (and in many cases continue to be) woefully underrepresented in the academic ranks. In contrast, [white] queer [male] scholars have been employed as professors. The key difference was that most of those [white male] queer scholars had to stay in the closet to keep, much less obtain, that job. Most of them feared that public exposure would end their careers. In some cases, they were right. It goes without saying that their research rarely focused on queer topics. Silence was their shield.
Given this history, it is not surprising that I found little published advice for queer scholars when I first started thinking about the job search process while still a graduate student a decade ago. What I did find tended to be fairly bleak. More or less, the available advice proposed the academic equivalent of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." Since much of my youthful consciousness raising had emphasized the need of being out for political and social gains, that hardly felt like very nice advice. Getting a job was more important, the argument went, than principles or politics.
Fortunately for me, I had a more sensible adviser who rightfully suggested that such strategies wouldn’t yield the best of results in the long run. You might obtain a job, but could end up working for a legion of homophobic colleagues who would ultimately deny you tenure anyway. Since then, I’ve combined her ideas, my own experiences, and the stories I have heard from my queer friends and students who have gone through the process. Rather than advice, here are some of the things that tend to come up over and over again.
Let me, though, start with a few caveats. No short entry can fully cover the experiences or desires of all queer scholars looking for a job. Our diversity and various intersecting identities inform our choices about what is the best "fit." A single lesbian Chicana with a child will likely have significantly different concerns than a partnered Africa-American man without children who, in turn, will have different concerns from a white transgendered woman with grandchildren.
Second, recognize that no job is perfect. As a child, I believed television. It promised my work day would be filled with hilarious hijinks, comedic colleagues, and lots of coffee. Of course, I also imagined that at some point in the middle of the day I would fight crime after dashing off to a broom closet to change into Wonder Woman. None of those things has come true -- so far. Every job requires compromises and, for many, simply having a job really is the most important factor. Nonetheless, there are some things that we should all think about as we make career choices.
Consider Being Out During the Search Process
Through all stages of interviewing, it is not appropriate (and in 20 states and the District of Columbia, actually illegal) to consider the sexual orientation of a candidate. Job candidates are under no obligation to reveal their sexual orientation or marital status. So, if you are on the market and aren’t comfortable being out, you are under no duty to do so.
Nonetheless, I actually recommend being out in the later stages of the process. To my way of thinking, being out is one of the only ways to determine whether you will find the campus climate, benefits, and life in the town acceptable.
It is a myth that you must conform to obtain a job in the academy. You should appear professional and serious during the interview. Feel under no obligation, though, to dress or act differently than you would in your day-to-day life. If you identify as a woman, but don’t like to wear skirts in daily life, there is no need to suddenly put one on for an interview. Likewise for those who identify as a man but disdain ties. So too there are good reasons not to conceal your sexuality.
Many, I know, will take exception to the notion of being out during the process because it goes against common wisdom on such matters. They will suggest that it blurs professional and personal matters. Or they will argue that it can cost a candidate a job. For the latter, I suggest that if a department won’t hire you because you are queer, then they will certainly make your life a living hell if they did hire you without knowing. Ask yourself if staying closeted is really worth obtaining a job at a university like Brigham Young.
For the first concern, I would say that the academic world already blurs personal and professional life. Most academics socialize considerably with those with whom they work, especially in small towns. Plus, in a nation that still lacks universal healthcare, your job and its benefits have real consequences for your personal life.
It is important therefore to know how the department and administration responds to an out candidate to know how they will respond to an out employee. During your campus visit, you will likely meet with the Dean (or a Deanlet) and the Department Chair. It is completely reasonable to ask them about how junior queer faculty fair on the campus or in the department. Consider it a bad omen if their response is something along the lines of, “I’ve never really thought about it.” Be equally leery of an administrator who evades a discussion of homophobia on campus or in the community with superficial platitudes. Things like, “Our university doesn’t offer same-sex spousal benefits, but we have an excellent Trader Joe’s in town!” or “There’s an Ikea within driving distance! Don’t your people shop there?” are a far cry from knowing that your potential employer has thought seriously about the actual needs of queer faculty.
When going on a campus visit, I have also usually asked to meet with other gay faculty. They are more likely to give you a sense of their own experiences and sense of the town (though this doesn’t always work out, as I’ll mention in a minute).
Unfortunately, the story that you are likely to be told is a bleak one. According to the best numbers that I could find, only about 40 percent of universities in the United States offer equal benefits to same-sex and opposite sex partners. That is about the same percentage as private companies (larger than 500 employees) that offer equal benefits. Many public universities, moreover, are explicitly forbidden from extending benefits due to discriminatory state constitutions or hateful legislatures. Private universities or those in New England are your best option right now. So, if you aren’t interviewing in Massachusetts, be aware that your benefits package will likely be less than they would offer a straight professor. The Dean (or Deanlet) doesn’t have much control over those matters.
Nonetheless, the administration should be able to discuss how the university is combating those inequities (law suits, local activism, spousal hires). They should also be aware of how queer faculty, students, and staff are treated and perceived. If they can’t speak intelligently about these matters, bad times are likely in store for a queer employee.
Don’t Fear Asking Key Questions During Your On-Campus Visit
Aside from the administration, you probably also want to ask questions of the regular faculty that you meet through the day. Yet, campus interviews can involve a tricky balance. If the only questions that you ask are about whether or not the town is livable for queer people, you might inadvertently send the message that your are turned off by the location. The established faculty of a small town might be sensitive about their location and imagine that you are unwilling to live there. So, make conscious decisions to spread out a variety of questions to different faculty that you meet. Also arrange your questions so that they are not accusatory. Try asking, "Can you tell me a bit about the queer community in this lovely town?" instead of, "Can a gay man possibly survive in this backwater Texas hell hole?"
I would ask a couple of different people, but not every person, about what they perceive as the major issues for queer folk on campus. If you are in the humanities or social sciences, you might also ask if any of the existing faculty currently teach on queer topics and how that has been received by students. If you are a queer parent, it seems important to know whether the school system has experience with non-hetero families. It would be a drag to have to spend your time educating the town’s educators.
Expect the Bizarre
The interview process is a grueling gauntlet. Making it worse is the fact that you are sometimes going to encounter loony situations (or people) while a guest of a particular department. You might encounter faculty who have no idea about what is appropriate conduct for an on-campus interview. As a cherished former colleague of mine always recommended, “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.” Indeed, most of the usual interviewing gaffs (but not all) are committed by those who are poorly informed about their professional responsibilities. Nonetheless, it can take you off guard. Let me mention some examples that I have encountered.
Though I have usually made it clear to the search chair before I arrive that I am gay, and my c.v. suggests strongly that I am gay, I have nonetheless been asked if I was [heterosexually] married on every single on-campus interview that I have ever had. Every. Single. One.
Responding to such questions is tricky. Though it is generally illegal to ask about marital status, are you supposed to call the police? Is there a special “campus interview” division assigned to crack down on such violations? Nope.
It’s not that I care whether the faculty know that I am gay. Rather, it puts me in an uncomfortable situation where I have the choice of either pointing out their erroneous (read: heterocentric) assumptions and, thus, embarrassing them (which, even when I am not interviewing, isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do). Or, I have to evade the question (which makes me feel bad and closeted, too). The best you can do is come up with a plan before you arrive on campus about how to respond in a gracious manner.
Those questions, though, are nothing compared to other awkward moments that I have encountered. During one memorable campus interview (that didn’t go great all the way around), my request to meet with other queer faculty brought me to a nice, but misguided, lesbian. While she intended to be helpful, the sum of her advice for a young gay interviewee was peculiar. Noting that the small town lacked a gay bar, she offered up the various campus bathrooms that were known for their gay male cruising as an alternative. There was no good way to mention that I am not that type of gay. In that instance, I would have preferred she talked up the local Trader Joe’s.
It made me wonder if she actually considered that stating that the only viable option for gay men in the town was anonymous sex near dirty urinals was “selling her university.” It also goes to prove that lesbians and gay men don’t always have insight into the best needs of the other group.
Location, Location, Location
Taking a job as a queer scholar frequently involves moving to a state or location where the majority of voters have declared that we are not eligible for equal rights or protection under the law. Forget questions about a hostile work environment, some queer scholars have to contend with a hostile living environment. From more than one of my friends I have heard stories about their first job’s stress being compounded by harassing phone calls or other threatening behavior because they were one of the few out scholars on campus. While those were extreme instances, decide ahead of time what level of homophobic climate you are willing to tolerate. Only you can decide if any job is worth it.
Even in small towns where homophobia is relatively mild, queer scholars often feel isolated. Indeed, most of my queer friends and colleagues across the nation complain to me about the actual location of their job more than any other factor (including the rigors of getting tenure). How often have I heard, “I love my colleagues. My students are great. This job would be simply perfect – if it was in Chicago"?
Most of these complaints have to do with a perceived lack of “community.” It’s a word that really signifies different things for different people. Some are not happy unless there are several gay bars within walking distance. (Let me tell you, if a town has only one gay bar, you do get tired of it mighty quick). Others, though, are content to know that there is one other gay person within 50 miles. Still others want to know that there are active community centers or professional organizations. Some want a specific community of queer parents.
Whatever the case, most queer folk prefer to be in an area that can provide at least a reasonable circle of queer friends. If one is single, the need for a larger queer community becomes all the more urgent. Urban centers like New York, Chicago, Boston, and others more than meet that requirement for most people.
Unfortunately, you might have noticed that most of the nation’s universities are located far from urban centers like New York, Chicago, Boston, and others. This was no accident. Most of the nation’s universities opened in the 19th century. Their founders imagined that universities had to be isolated from the illicit temptations of city life that would corrupt impressionable students. Queer men were one of the most illicit of those temptations. If you imagine that you can only live in an urban setting, I am here to tell you that the academic deck is stacked against you.
Because queer people are such a tiny minority of the entire population, being in a small town necessarily means that the options for a single queer person seeking a romantic attachment, or even a means to pass the time, are limited. Indeed, many queer people who are not in academia actively choose to move away from those very same towns to reach an urban setting.
Alas, I have no solution to this problem. If I did, my friends would worship me. Or, I should say worship me more than they already do. I am pretty worshipable.
My best recommendation would be to expand your imagination and expect to do a lot of driving. Some opt to live in the closest city-sized place they can find. This, though, usually means a significant commute (which can interfere with your progress towards tenure). Others actively decide to live a life of the mind. Either way, remember that obtaining tenure is your primary goal.
In the end, many queer scholars feel that they don’t have a choice in terms of employment. Assuming that you are going to insist upon living indoors, any job offer is going to seem preferable than nothing at all. We all have to earn those coins. Remember that nothing has to be forever. The most important thing to do is to make the best informed choices that one can make, work hard at getting tenure, and always keep an eye on those job postings in New England.
GayProf is an assistant professor in the humanities and the author of the Durable Blog Center of Gravitas.
2. AlumniUnit.com, May 18, 2009
Gay rights making gains in UNC system HBCUs
Three years ago, Winston-Salem State University’s nondiscrimination policy didn’t include sexual orientation. Neither did those at most of the historically black colleges and universities in the UNC system.
But today, four of the five public historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, including Winston-Salem State University, have policies that include sexual orientation.
The change is happening at a time when just in the past few months, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut have taken steps to legalize same-sex marriage.
“Clearly, society has changed,” said Edward Hanes Jr., the equal employment opportunity officer at Winston-Salem State University.
“More information in the community has brought the change around, more acknowledgement that our campuses are diverse in many ways, beyond the color of skin,” Hanes said.
That change hasn’t come easily, however. Nationally, HBCUs have been resistant, and sometimes hostile, to protecting the rights of gay students and faculty.
Many HBCUs were founded by religious organizations, said Joey Gaskins, the diversity student coordinator for Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s leading gay-rights organizations.
Those religious organizations were often conservative on social issues, such as homosexuality, with black ministers preaching that homosexuality was a sin.
“A lot of our students find the administration and faculty tend to be very conservative and not agreeing with who they are as a people and not allowing the space to educate the community,” Gaskins said.
But historically black colleges and universities should not turn their back on the Christian values that they were founded upon, said Bishop Harry Jackson, the founder of High Impact Leadership Coalition, a black conservative organization based in Maryland. He said he has no problems with gay students having organizations on campuses or in making sure that gay students are not discriminated against.
However, he said he thinks that gay activists have hijacked the language of the civil-rights movement and presented “the gay lifestyle as being a group of people who are oppressed and downtrodden.”
“My concern is that on these campuses, there is not a level of gay activism to the point that we blur so much the lines of roles of family and parenting that are the building blocks of our culture,” said Jackson, who last week organized a rally against same-sex marriage in Washington.
In March, WSSU’s board of trustees voted to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy. Hanes said that the school started taking a close look at including sexual orientation in the policy about three years ago, soon after he started at the school.
He said that often school administrators at HBCUs have larger worries than sexual orientation, and that was one of the reasons why it took so long for the school to take action. But once trustee members were able to look at the policy change, they approved it unanimously, Hanes said.
“To be perfectly honest, we face a lot of issues at historically black colleges and universities that frankly, majority schools don’t have to face,” he said. “Sexual orientation is not the most pressing issue. We’re working at schools that had to do more with less.”
According to a recent Associated Press story, the economic downturn has hit HBCUs harder than other colleges and universities. Enrollments have dropped and endowments are declining. Only three black colleges — Howard University, Spelman College and Hampton University — had endowments among the top 300 included in a survey of American public and private colleges, according to The Associated Press.
But the reasons are deeper than financial, others say.
“I think black homophobia is rooted in the fact that our traditional masculine and feminine roles have been under attack for 300 years,” said the Rev. Carlton Eversley, who is the pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church and the president of the Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity.
Black men have historically been denied the opportunity to make enough money to provide for their families, and the idea that black women can raise a family has also been under attack, Eversley said.
“When there are people whose orientation is different or nontraditional, we have a visceral anti-gay, anti-lesbian feeling,” he said. “Having said all that, I don’t think that condones it.”
The issue of gay rights at HBCUs came to a head after a 2002 incident in which a gay student at all-male Morehouse College was beaten by another student with a bat. The gay student’s skull was fractured during the beating.
After the incident, the Human Rights Campaign started an initiative focusing on HBCUs, Gaskins said. A gay campus organization was soon established at Morehouse College called Safe Space.
The organization has worked with a number of HBCUs, including Winston-Salem State University, Bennett College, N.C. A&T State University and N.C. Central University.
“There’s a lot of work and education that needs to be done,” Gaskins said. But he is seeing progress.
Students at Winston-Salem State University established the Gay-Straight Student Alliance last year. Brandon Hughes, the president of the organization and a senior from Charlotte, said he didn’t run into much opposition to the group, which recently held a panel discussion on same-sex marriage.
“I know African-Americans are more conservative,” he said. “At the same time, as African-Americans, we also are a lot more tolerant than we like to portray.”
He said that people who are his age are much more accepting of gay people than older generations. And popular culture is presenting more positive images of gay people.
“The younger generation is a lot more open-minded,” he said. “A lot of gays and lesbians are organizing to let people know what we are. This is how we love. You can either accept it or ignore it.”
But things aren’t going to change overnight, Gaskins said.
“I don’t think it’s our goal to challenge any long-held historical values of these schools,” he said. “Our goal is to just open up the conversation about who we are…. Maybe through that conversation, hearts and minds will change.”
3. UVA Today, May 19, 2009
P.O. Box 400229, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4229
Sisson Named Ally of the Year in U.Va.'s Gay Community
Media Contact: Dan Heuchert
The LGBT Resource Center at the University of Virginia created the V. Shamim Sisson Ally of the Year Award and bestowed the inaugural honor upon Sisson, former senior associate dean of students, at the center's LGBT graduation ceremony and annual spring garden party on May 1.
Sisson was instrumental in creating the center, which is dedicated to students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or as a proactive ally in the University community. She also oversaw the hiring of the center's first full-time director, Edward S. Warwick.
Warwick said Sisson has continued to remain proactive and helpful while in retirement and has been a great resource to the LGBT community at U.Va.
The LGBT Resource Center also gave out lavender stoles to 35 students at the group's ceremony. The lavender stoles — worn in Sunday's main Finals ceremony — honored graduating undergraduate and graduate students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as a proactive ally in the University community.
4. Huffington Post, May 19, 2009
Gay Graduates and the New American Dream
By Jennifer Vanasco
Hello Gay Graduate,
You sure are in a bitter time to be thrust out of the womb of higher education. When I graduated college 15 years ago, America was in a golden decade. Five years before, the Berlin Wall had come down, giving us a new sense of security. We were at peace. We had saved the World Trade Center from destruction in 1992. The economy was booming. For someone like me, who wanted to go into print journalism, the job opportunities were everywhere.
How times have changed.
You may be wondering, gay graduate, how you are going to get a job. I wonder that, too. You may wonder if you will ever be able to live the American dream: buying your own house, working in a career that you love, making enough money to have family vacations and to send your kids to college themselves.
I don't know.
Times are hard, gay graduate. Even if they have work, people are worried. There is a pretty good chance that if you get that first job, you'll be laid off. Mortgages will likely never be as easy to get again. Crime is creeping back up.
You might as well just go back to your parents' house and hide under your childhood bed.
Except. You have an advantage that your straight colleagues don't have. You are living in a time when your community is experiencing real hope. Real change.
Fifteen years ago, gay graduate, lesbians were chic, but we couldn't get married. Some of us had domestic partnership ceremonies -- mine was held in a Wellesley College courtyard, the day brightened by strong sun and a breeze puffing off the lake. I didn't ever think I would be able to get married. It wasn't even on my radar. It was as impossible as -- well, as impossible to imagine as the death of newsprint, or the ability to conduct the details of your life on the Internet. (I didn't see my first web page until the summer after I graduated college).
And yet, suddenly, here we are.
Gay marriage is not only possible, but here. Fifty state equal marriage is inevitable. We will serve openly in the military. We will be protected against being fired because we are gay.
And gay graduate, at some point in your long life, you are going to find that you can be out and happily gay in whatever job you have, from Hollywood actor to major league baseball player, to Fortune 500 CEO, to minister, to homemaker.
At some point in your life, being gay will be a quirk, like being left-handed. You will tell your kids about a world where gay people couldn't get married in all states, and they will not believe you.
This is my message to you: The impossible happens. Towers fall, yes. Economies implode. But radical good can come seemingly from nowhere. The unimaginably wonderful can happen.
The world -- really -- can change, and you can change it. You know this is true, because you are living in that change now. You are witnessing first-hand what people can do when they are true to themselves and then work together for the greater good.
You will find a job, gay graduate. Maybe not immediately, but you will. You will find love. You will find happiness. You will find adventure.
And someday, you will find yourself in a world where all of these gay rights, which today seem so radical to so many, will seem perfectly ordinary to all.
You will find yourself in a world that you cannot today imagine. And it will be golden. It will be the new American dream.
Jennifer Vanasco is editor in chief of 365gay.com and an award-winning, syndicated columnist.
5. The Dartmouth, May 20, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Comm. approves gay marriage bill changes
By Kate Farley
The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee recommended on Tuesday that the state Senate approve Democratic Gov. John Lynch’s recommended changes to the same-sex marriage bill, passed by the state legislature on May 6. The changes will come to a vote in the House and Senate on Wednesday as an amendment to another bill.
Lynch’s recommendations explicitly provide protection for religious institutions and their employees from discrimination lawsuits if they refuse to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Lynch stands by his previous statements that he will sign the same-sex bill if these protections are added, Lynch’s press secretary, Colin Manning, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
“All of the pieces will come together,” state Sen. Matthew Houde ‘91, D-Plainfield, told The Dartmouth. “The bills build on each other.”
State Rep. Barbara Richardson, D-Cheshire, said that the particular House representatives present during Wednesday’s vote will be a “big factor” in the vote’s outcome.
“It could really depend on which side has more representatives there,” Richardson said.
The original same-sex marriage legislation passed on its second vote in the state House on March 30, 186 to 179, after the measure initially failed 182 to 183.
Supporters of the original same-sex marriage legislation have not publicly objected to the revisions.
“One of the ideas [of the same-sex marriage legislation] is to provide equal treatment for all New Hampshire residents,” Houde, a member of the judiciary committee, said. “The amendments make it clear that there is also protection for religious freedom.”
Other members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee did not return requests for comment by press time.
Richardson, who sponsored the original same-sex marriage bill in the House, said she supported changes that would encourage Lynch to sign the bill.
“The most important thing is for [the law] to get passed,” Richardson said.
Opponents of the amendment who also oppose same-sex marriage said they were against the revisions because they do not protect secular businesses and their employees who refuse to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“We feel that the amendment should have gone further in protecting the religious liberties and the consciences of folks and businesses who, because of their sincere beliefs, cannot in good conscience perform services for same-sex ceremonies,” said Kevin Smith, executive director for Cornerstone Policy Research, a think tank that advocates for “strong families, limited government and free markets.”
Smith said he is concerned that the current version of the law leaves non-religiously affiliated businesses who oppose same-sex marriage open to litigation if they refuse to work for same-sex couples.
Houde said expanding protection to any individual opposed to same-sex marriage “would go too far.”
“I think it would run afoul of our current non-discrimination laws,” he said.
The New Hampshire legislature passed a law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in employment, services, public accommodation and housing in 1998.
Three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa — currently permit same-sex marriages. A Maine law legalizing same-sex marriage will take effect in September, and a similar Vermont law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
New Hampshire has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples since 2007.
6. Columbia Spectator, May 19, 2009
2875 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York City, NY 10025
Senior Profile: Joseph Daniels, CC
By Sadia Latifi
He may be smoking a cigarette outside of Butler Library, but Joseph Daniels isn’t resting on his laurels.
In fact, before taking that first puff, he most likely just finished doing one or more of the following: acquiring more funding for campus queer events, organizing a controversial underwear party, or writing an art history paper on the male nude.
He can even do it all in Latin.
Most recently, the Columbia College senior served as the co-chair for last fall’s Queer Awareness Month, the secretary for the Columbia Queer Alliance, and a member of the Queer Leaders’ Caucus. It’s clear where his extracurricular interests lie today, but this wasn’t always the case.
“There was no gay culture in the South, “ Daniels, a native of Chesapeake, Va., explained, adding that he used to wear his sexual identity “as a badge."
“When I first came to Columbia, I had yet to fully integrate or sublimate my sexuality into who I was as an individual.”
The move north led to a natural evolution in his own politics. By junior year, Daniels began to fully identity as queer, a word that he says encompasses a political ideology. “I know my sexuality is a part of every decision I make, but it’s not separate anymore. It informs all of my thought in a way that flows.”
Several events at Columbia brought about this change in outlook, including a handful of hate crimes on campus that targeted gay students and the hunger strike from the fall of 2007. When Queer Awareness Month’s opening events were coordinated with a campus rally against racism, Daniels said he felt proud to see the rainbow balloons mixing in with the crowd. “It literally just confirmed my faith in the different minority communities here, and our ability to stand in solidarity.”
Since getting involved, funding for campus queer events has almost doubled and the Office of Multicultural Affairs created a position for a new LGBT adviser.
The art history and classics major has also helped support the movement for gender-neutral housing and bathrooms on campus. “So often the white, gay male becomes the face of the queer movement, and that’s a problem for representation.” To this end, he also helped coordinate a gay Muslim activist, Faisal Alam, to speak at an interfaith event following the visit of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (“The best publicity I could’ve asked for,” he recalled.)
Though he’s not sure what the future holds, Daniels said he’s less interested in pursuing academia than he used to be. This year marks almost a decade since Daniels began studying Latin, a language he started learning when he thought he might become a doctor. As his love for the language grew, he then considered becoming a classics professor. Now, Daniels said he wants to explore public service. To explain, he cited Stoic philosophy and the social contract.
“I become stronger as this community becomes stronger,” he said. “I’m going to hold up my end of the bargain.”
7. The Gazette, May 20, 2009
30 S. Prospect St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903
UCCS student president will run for county commission
By Dean Toda
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student body president who caused a furor this school year when he refused to sign off on allocating student-fee dollars to a campus gay organization, said Wednesday he'll seek a seat on the El Paso County Commission.
David Williams, a 22-year-old political science major who said he anticipates graduating in December, announced his candidacy for the District 5 seat being vacated by Jim Bensberg, who is term-limited in 2010. The district includes most of east, north and south-central Colorado Springs.
In the e-mail announcement, Williams endorsed "limited government, low taxes, adequate public safety and fiscal responsibility," but made no specific proposals. In an interview, he said the county's chronic budget problems should be solved by "making the government smaller so that there would be a smaller budget," but said he had not developed a list of the agencies or services he would cut.
The jockeying for Bensberg's seat is off to an early start. Peggy Littleton, this region's representative on the state Board of Education, and Patrick Carter, who ran for the Fifth Congressional District seat won by Doug Lamborn in 2006, have already announced their candidacies, and Bensberg said he expected former state Sen. Ed Jones to join the race.
Kay Rendleman, the county GOP chairwoman, said others are also considering making a run.
Williams made headlines in September when he declined to sign off on the student Senate's appropriation of $2,100 in student government-managed funding to Spectrum, a gay, bisexual and transgender club.
Williams said he had "a moral compass that disagrees with the lifestyle and message preached by Spectrum."
Williams' inaction did not block the request, which was granted without his signature in accordance with the student government constitution. But it ignited a controversy that burned for the rest of the school year.
Williams was impeached in April by the student government, which found him guilty of discrimination but did not take the final step of removing him from office. A separate effort to recall Williams by a vote of the 8,000-member student body was blocked by UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, who said proper procedures had not been followed. Williams' term ends June 1.
The episode sparked a debate about homophobia on campus and a heightened awareness of gay-rights issues. Williams was defeated for re-election, and his successor as student body president is openly gay.
Williams said Wednesday that he had acted on his "core beliefs."
"I don't apologize for what I did," he said. "We have too many politicians that have no sort of a backbone. They're just simply politicians that pander to both sides in order to get elected."
Rendleman said she didn't think the insertion of a social wedge issue into a county commissioner's race would tarnish the party. "People will try to use that against him," she said of the campus controversy. "I don't think that's what any of the candidates in that race will be pushing, so I don't see it as impacting the image of the party."
8. MSNBC, May 22, 2009
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112
Liberty Univ. Expels Campus Democrats
By Mark Murray
Liberty University, the school in Virginia founded by the late Jerry Falwell, has expelled the Democratic Party club on the campus, saying that the national Democratic Party's views contradict the university's mission. (Hat tip: Ben Smith.)
Said a school official in an email to the Democratic club, according to the Lynchburg (VA) newspaper: "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, hate crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.)."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe held a conference call with reporters in support of the Democrats at Liberty University.
Of course, one must ask: Just how many Dems attend Liberty?
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