Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.05.16
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. Journal Sentinel - MU faculty condemns pulled job offer
2. Inside Higher Ed - Stained Glass Ceiling
3. The Collegian (California State University, Fresno) - University lacks LGBT resources
4. SUNY Oswego - McHugh withdraws from Oswego's Commencement
5. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Scholar Rejected by Marquette Says Her Work Is Noncontroversial at Seattle U.
6. Seattle University Spectator - SU prof O'Brien was eager to take dean position at Marquette
7. Journal Sentinel - Listecki raised alarm over Marquette hiring
8. Fox 6 Now - Milwaukee Archbishop explains his part in Jodi O'Brien's rescinded job offer
9. Journal Sentinel - Job retraction at Marquette University teaches intolerance
10. The Chronicle of Higher Education - After Coming Out as a Lesbian, a Student May Owe $80,000 to Army ROTC
11. The Georgia Voice - Gay Morehouse students carjacked, robbed, called ‘faggots’
1. Journal Sentinel, May 10, 2010
P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, WI 53201
MU faculty condemns pulled job offer
By Sharif Durhams
Marquette University faculty members condemned the school's decision to pull a job offer from a scholar who has written on sexual topics, and recommended Monday that their representatives consider a vote of no confidence in university President Father Robert A. Wild in the fall.
The Academic Senate said the vote should be considered if the university doesn't take steps to reassure faculty members that their advancement at the university would not be hindered by the topics they research.
The Academic Senate also criticized the university's decision-making process in a job search for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences that ended after Wild and Provost John J. Pauly pulled a job offer last week that they had extended to Seattle University professor Jodi O'Brien.
"In a university environment, we encourage open discussion among all members of the Marquette community, and in this situation many opinions are being voiced," spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfeil said. "As the representative voice of our faculty, the University Academic Senate plays an important role in such discussions, and Father Wild respects and is always willing to work with the senate."
Students and faculty spoke during a portion of the three-hour Academic Senate meeting, but members of the group's executive committee went into a closed session for much of the debate. Meanwhile, about 200 Marquette students gathered outside the room where the Academic Senate was meeting Monday afternoon. On their shirts, they wore small pieces of paper decorated with rainbows and held signs that said "Hold Fr. Wild Accountable" and "We Support You."
Academic Senate Chairman Edward Fallone, a professor in the law school, said he could not share other options that the senate might have considered during its closed-door deliberations.
The campaign to challenge Wild started last week after Marquette announced it was rescinding an offer to O'Brien, a lesbian whose research has included an examination of vignettes on gay and lesbian sex, to take the deanship. Marquette has said O'Brien's sexual orientation was not a factor in the decision to pull the job offer. Some of O'Brien's published works "relating to Catholic mission and identity" were the issue, according to a university spokeswoman.
A no confidence vote or a call for resignation by faculty typically has no binding effect, but it can undermine the president's authority. Wild had announced earlier this year that he planned to retire as Marquette's president in June 2011 after 15 years in the post.
Officials haven't provided more detail about what writings might have raised red flags. But Wild told members of the dean search committee last week that there was an article in which "sex positions" and "sex toys" were mentioned, and that the passage could be interpreted as autobiographical, said psychology professor Stephen Franzoi, who served on the committee. Franzoi said members of the search committee reviewed the work again and did not believe the passages were autobiographical and that the article was a scholarly work.
Wild also told search committee members that some of O'Brien's writings on same-sex marriage weren't consistent with church teachings, Franzoi said.
O'Brien is dean of the anthropology and sociology department at Seattle University, which, like Marquette, is a Jesuit school. She had already visited Milwaukee on a house-hunting trip and said last week that she was "stunned and disappointed" at the decision to withdraw the job offer.
The action by the faculty leaders didn't satisfy some faculty who wanted the academics to make a stronger statement, said Nancy Snow, a philosophy professor. "We move ahead with our protests," she said.
This is finals week at Marquette. Several students sat on the carpeted floor of the Union cradling laptops that sported protest signs attached to them.
One of the organizers of the gathering, Melissa Mosko, said it was not a protest but a show of support for faculty.
"The Marquette community has been hurt, Marquette's reputation has taken a blow. Someone has to take responsibility," said Mosko, 27, a graduate student studying philosophy.
Alyssa Gerber, 22, an English major from Morris, Ill., said she chose Marquette because of its Jesuit teaching and values. "But these actions are not reflecting Catholic values."
Gerber noted that Marquette was the first Catholic university to admit women 100 years ago, a milestone the campus is celebrating.
"You can't expect excellent scholarship and restrict someone's academic freedom," said Gerber. More than 2,700 people have joined a Facebook group called "Marquette: Do Not Discriminate Against Jodi O'Brien."
Marquette academics have been scrutinizing O'Brien's work for more than two years. The university's College of Arts and Sciences has been searching for a dean since the previous dean stepped down in December 2007, and the university has conducted two searches. O'Brien previously had been recruited by a third party for the job during the first search and was placed on a short list of candidates, but she declined the job for family reasons, Franzoi said.
Recruitment reopened and the new selection committee approached O'Brien directly, asking her to reconsider her application, Franzoi said.
Marquette's student government plans to hold a student-only listening session Tuesday at the student union to discuss the dean search. Wild, Dean of Students Stephanie Quade and Father James Flaherty, who serves on Marquette's board of trustees, plan to participate.
Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this article.
2. Inside Higher Ed, May 11, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Stained Glass Ceiling
By Scott Jaschik
W. King Mott, associate professor of political science and gender studies at Seton Hall University, clearly has earned respect from colleagues at the Roman Catholic institution. He has tenure. He recently finished a term as chair of the Faculty Senate. He served on the search committee for a new president.
But he's quite certain he'll never be an administrator. "There is no way the current hierarchy will allow a gay person to hold a position of authority unless they are closeted and self-loathing. They will never permit a scholar who publishes a point of view" promoting gay equity to hold a position of real authority, he said. Mott was demoted from associate dean back to the faculty ranks in 2005 the day after he wrote a letter to the editor of a New Jersey newspaper in which he questioned church leaders for criticizing gay men while "permitting and hiding pedophiles within the priesthood." The university cited his use of his title as associate dean as the reason for the demotion.
Mott is facing scrutiny once again -- this time for a course he is planning on the history of the legal and political fights over marriage, in which he will discuss gay marriage and his views as a gay man in favor of it. Although the new course went through standard approvals, it is now being subject to an additional review by the Mission and Identity Committee of the university's Board of Regents. That review was requested by the Rev. John J. Myers, archbishop of Newark, who denounced the course for seeking "to promote as legitimate a train of thought that is contrary to what the church teaches."
Catholic colleges are of course regularly the site of debates over the role of religious teachings in the context of American higher education. At commencement time, most notably last year at the University of Notre Dame, honorary degrees for or speeches by political leaders who support abortion rights are questioned by some church leaders. Valentine's Day is an annual barrage of press releases and counter-releases about productions of The Vagina Monologues on Catholic campuses.
But amid those debates, the academic leaders of the institutions are frequently quick to point out that the faculties of their colleges include people of many faiths (or no faith) and many views on church teachings. The headlines over a Vagina Monologues production being forced off campus, they note, don't reflect the reality of deep commitment to academic freedom in the classroom and in academic decisions.
And that may explain why many professors and students at Marquette University have become so concerned and angry in the last week. The university rescinded an offer to the woman who was supposed to be its next dean of arts and sciences. The woman, Jodi O'Brien, is a sociologist at Seattle University who is a lesbian and whose scholarship has focused on sexuality and gender. O'Brien was very open about her sexual orientation and her scholarship with the search committee, which in turn was open with senior administrators at Marquette, who first offered her the job and then rescinded it.
The university maintains that she was found inappropriate for the position because of some of her writings, not for her sexual orientation. Either way, faculty leaders see a violation of academic freedom and of the principles of shared governance.
The controversy over O'Brien's rescinded appointment and Mott's demotion five years ago (and controversy today over his planned course) have some faculty members fearful about a new glass ceiling at Catholic institutions. Gay scholars may win tenure and say what they wish, they fear, but they can't rise too high. And if Catholic colleges are defined as places that limit those who are gay or who speak out about gay scholarship, the institutions risk being branded as intolerant, they say.
G. Dennis O'Brien (no relation to Jodi O'Brien), author of The Idea of the Catholic University (University of Chicago Press) and former president of the University of Rochester and Bucknell University, said that the Marquette situation reminded him of an experience he had applying for a presidency he did not get at an institution that, like the two he led, was not Catholic. He heard from colleagues that the search committee was asking around about whether his Catholic faith made him biased and somehow unsuited for a presidency. "I thought it was an awfully stupid question to ask," he said. "But anti-Catholicism has been for many years the anti-Semitism of the intellectual class."
Thinking about the Marquette situation, he said, he sees similarities. "Presumably you hire deans because they are expert academic managers. Your sexual orientation should not enter into your behavior as a dean. And if your scholarship is about lesbianism, there is nothing wrong with that. That's a perfectly legitimate field," he said. While the idea of a lesbian dean at a Catholic university may seem shocking to some, he said he never would have believed it possible -- when he joined Princeton University's faculty in 1958 -- that the institution would one day be led by a woman.
Others, however, say that Catholic institutions shouldn't be expected to act like all other colleges. "Catholic institutions choose to be Catholic -- nobody forces them to be. In so choosing, they have a responsibility to the students and the faculty and to the church and one of those is to clearly communicate church teaching," said Melanie M. Morey, co-author of Catholic Higher Education: A Culture in Crisis (Oxford University Press) and a consultant at the Catholic Education Institute.
"The secular model of higher education is the predominant one," she said, "but the assumption that this is the only model is wrong."
At Marquette, the search committee that selected Jodi O'Brien was not oblivious to the idea that her hiring might set off a controversy. O'Brien (who did not respond to requests for an interview) is open about her sexuality and research. Her record is open enough that, after people heard about her as a serious candidate, search committee members received a letter from a Catholic high school threatening not to send students to Marquette should she be hired.
Stephen Franzoi, a professor of psychology who was on the search committee, said that as it became clear that O'Brien was a serious candidate, search committee members "sought and received assurances" from the provost and others that they wouldn't have to rule her out. In the end, some on the search committee feared that the president "wouldn't have the courage to hire her," and so the search committee forwarded two names as recommended hires.
Of O'Brien, the search committee said that she would be outstanding, but that the university shouldn't hire her "unless the president or the provost were prepared to stand by her should anybody challenge her based on her sexual orientation or her scholarship," Franzoi said.
Franzoi said that the committee -- including members who thought O'Brien was the best candidate -- believed that the worst possible outcome for the university would be to hire O'Brien, have her attacked, and then for the university to get rid of her. (In other words, what happened.) He noted that in the interview, she talked about her commitment to Jesuit higher education (both Seattle and Marquette are Jesuit institutions). "We thought she was the best suited in articulating the Jesuit mission of the university, and we thought she had the vision to move us to the next level."
Rev. Robert A. Wild, the president of Marquette, was not available for an interview. But he told a faculty meeting that his decision to rescind the offer to O'Brien was "not about sexual identity." He said that the university has many "men and women who are homosexual" and "who do great work" and that discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation would be "against our Catholic faith." Marquette University's anti-discrimination statement specifically includes sexual orientation among those factors on which the university bars bias.
Father Wild's statement indicated that the reason he reversed the decision was because some of O'Brien's "publications relating to Catholic mission and identity should have been more fully explored early in the process." While the university has not specified publications of O'Brien's that caused offense, traditionalist Web sites that have been cheering on Marquette's decision have noted that she wrote journal articles with titles such as "Seeking Normal: Considering Same-Sex Marriage" and "Complicating Homophobia."
Many at Marquette -- even those furious about the recent events -- said that they do not doubt Father Wild's sincerity about not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. But Franzoi said that the academic freedom issues are not negated by what Father Wild says happened -- that an appointment was derailed because of journal articles. "How many people, when you write as an assistant professor, are thinking about becoming a dean?" he said. "What Father Wild is telling us is 'you can follow your scholarship wherever it leads because you have academic freedom, but if at any point you want to be a leader at Marquette, we might find something you wrote when you were an assistant professor or a graduate student and that could well make you ineligible.' "
Added Franzoi: "Do we have academic freedom here anymore? I don't think so."
Nancy E. Snow, a professor of philosophy at Marquette, said she was approached to help recruit O'Brien and introduce her to community members. Snow said she assumed one reason she was asked to do this was because she is an out lesbian with tenure. Looking back on 20 years at the university, she said, Marquette has had "an admirable trajectory" in becoming more accepting of gay people, and she said that "I credit Father Wild for much of that."
But Snow said that the way O'Brien was treated cannot have any impact other than telling gay and lesbian faculty members to stay out of sight. "There are many more closeted faculty members here than out," she said. "I don't know if I could advise anyone in good conscience to look for a job at Marquette," she said.
Snow described the campus as "in turmoil." Faculty members voted Monday to condemn the university's withdrawal of the offer, and there is talk of scheduling a vote of no confidence in the administration. The university was scheduling "listening meetings" for administrators to hear concerns. Students have organized several protests.
Jacob Weisenberger, a senior who is president of Marquette's Gay-Straight Alliance, said that "this sends the message that there is no place for the LGBT community on this campus. They are looking at sexual orientation before academic credentials."
The situation at Marquette (and the controversy at Seton Hall) were cited in a statement released Monday by Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors. He noted that "some Catholic university presidents have stood up for the notion that there can be a productive dialogue between faith and reason, between doctrine and individual conviction." But he went on to say that Marquette's action "has negative ramifications for academic freedom," and that any limits placed on the Seton Hall marriage course would as well. "Seton Hall could well expect the instructor to distinguish between church doctrine and his own beliefs, but an instructor of the history of marriage might well desire to include comment on contemporary debates. The AAUP would support that instructor’s right to express his or her own views, and the right of the students to do so as well," he said.
Many Catholic educators have been closely watching the situation but a number declined to comment once told the reason for this reporter's call.
Is It Orientation or Research? Are Deans Different?
While senior Marquette officials declined to talk about the situation, their supporters were quick in every discussion to say that Catholic teaching does not teach that gay people are sinful, and that the university would never reject someone for being gay. Rather, they said the church teaches that gay conduct and advocacy are troublesome.
Dennis O'Brien said that he thinks Catholic colleges will "have difficulty with this ambiguity about what the church is saying." While O'Brien acknowledged the distinction, he said that this is "a difficult position to hold because what it is really saying is that the only legitimate position for a woman or a man who is homosexually inclined is not to express their sexuality in any way, shape or form."
Mott, the Seton Hall professor who was demoted, said he sees Catholic colleges relying on gay faculty while pretending that they don't exist. He said that in one of his recent courses, he found out that half of the students were gay and were seeking him out as a rare, out gay man because they needed "reassurance and safety" at the institution.
O'Brien said that the question of a dean's role does make the question more complicated than if one were just discussing a faculty member. And he said that the issue would be different as well for a president.
A president, he said, is "someone who embodies the values of an institution." He said he understands why a Catholic college would find it "somewhat difficult to appoint a president who was openly gay.... There is a sense in which presidents of colleges and universities are often more than simply educational managers -- they are supposed to embody deep values of these institutions."
Many evangelical Christian colleges have statements of faith and codes of conduct that apply to the junior professor and president alike, and many of those codes would bar any sex outside of heterosexual marriage. O'Brien said he respected the right of such institutions to have such policies, provided that they are "up front and clear to everyone."
He said he worried that barring deans who differ from church teachings on sexuality could lead to the application of more litmus tests. "They are starting down the track of the more sectarian denominational colleges," he said. "Once you cannot appoint a dean, maybe you shouldn't appoint faculty of the wrong orientation or scholarship or admit students of that orientation. Is that really what Catholic institutions want to be?"
O'Brien recalled serving on an accreditation team for a Catholic university and its self-study began by stating a desire to be "completely" Catholic and also "completely" American. O'Brien said he admired both parts of the sentiment and that part of being American is "being open."
Morey, of the Catholic Education Institute, said that, to her, there is no question that deans at Catholic colleges are reflections of the institutions and their values.
"I certainly do not think Catholic institutions should require that every person on the faculty be a Catholic, or a practicing Catholic," she said. "There are many, many wonderful things that non-Catholics bring to the intellectual and moral life of Catholic institutions. There is a rich exchange of ideas. But where it becomes problematic is when administrators who claim to be Catholic also take public positions that cast serious doubt about whether or not they in fact support church teachings."
Deans "have a responsibility to articulate church teaching in the best possible way and not to stand in radical opposition to church teaching," she said. "Administrators are in a situation in which they are in a Catholic institution either supporting the opportunity for the church's teaching to be presented authentically or not, and if they in fact don't agree with it, and use their scholarship as a way to stand in direct opposition to it, one wonders why they would choose a Catholic institution."
Morey also said she wasn't worried by all the talk at Marquette and elsewhere about this incident escalating "tensions" over issues of faith and academic freedom. "The suggestion you can do away with tensions in higher education is not possible at any institution."
A Gay Dean
While many in Catholic higher education are quick to name closeted administrators or to suggest that someone couldn't be an out dean, there is at least one: Jeffrey Trumbower, dean of the college and professor of religious studies at Saint Michael's College. Trumbower said that he has always felt "full support" at the college. He had been a faculty member at the college prior to being appointed, "and everyone knows my partner, so there was never any question" about his being gay, he said.
When he was appointed dean in 2005, a local gay publication noted the promotion and that attracted the attention of some people who "do Google searches with the aim of nabbing Catholic institutions for whatever," he said. "For about two weeks, I got a lot of e-mail. And that was it. They went on to other things."
Trumbower said his being gay is a non-issue. He brings his partner to events to which others bring spouses. He does his job.
He noted that the college is relatively small and in Vermont and isn't on the front lines of the culture wars. He also noted that his research is on religion, but isn't about sexual orientation, which may limit scrutiny of his work. While he teaches religion courses, Trumbower said he thinks it may help that he's not a Catholic in that "no one could ever say that I was trying to teach that Catholic teaching should be X, Y or Z."
Trumbower noted that he's a Unitarian Universalist. To some who believe Catholic colleges aren't Catholic enough, he quipped, "that might be worse than being gay."
3. The Collegian (California State University, Fresno), May 12, 2010
5201 N. Maple Ave., M/S SA42 Fresno, CA 93740-8027
University lacks LGBT resources
By Thaddeus Miller
Though homosexuality is nothing new, its visibility is. Officials agree that the lack of visibility of the homosexual community, among other things, translates to the lack of services for homosexual university students.
As United Student Pride (USP) president, David Reitz heads a Fresno State club for people of all sexual orientations.
The abbreviation that encompasses all sexual orientations other than heterosexuality can be tricky, because some people prefer labels like “queer,” “questioning” or “intersex.” The most encompassing is probably LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender plus); the “+” refers to every label not covered in the four letters before it.
As a first-generation college student, Reitz was not familiar with the inner-workings of a university, nor did he fit into one of the groups that receive special attention from University Outreach Services.
“[When navigating college] I always tried to learn for myself, learn from teachers, different people and organizations,” Reitz said.
He said Fresno’s historically conservative views can make it difficult on the LGBT+ community.
It is common, according to Reitz, for members of the LGBT+ community to be supporting themselves while attending college, so generating community outreach through USP has proven difficult.
LGBT+ clubs are not common to all high school campuses in the Fresno area, but some exist. Reitz said USP has a fleeting connection with a club from Fresno High School, but no others.
A 1989 study by the U.S. Department of Health found that gay and lesbian youths are two-to-three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals of the same age. Suicide was also found to be the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youth.
The Women’s Resource Center, also known as the Center for Women and Culture, currently has some services for LGBT+ students. Reitz said a centralized resource office specifically designed for LGBT+ students at Fresno State would be a great asset.
Unlike Fresno State, some colleges in the California State University system have programs that cater to LGBT+ students. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, along with others, have some equivalent to an LGBT+ resource center.
The staffing for these programs tends to be small, no more than two.
Grosser, Cal Poly Pomona’s Pride Center Coordinator, said her one-person office restricts the amount of outreach and retention services she can provide for LGBT+ students.
Grosser said LGBT+ affairs are young, and the community lacks visibility. She said LGBT+ students often are not ready to reveal their sexual orientation for fear of discrimination or stigmatization. So, there is presently not a good way to count the population.
“Not everybody uses the same [labels], if we even asked it,” Grosser said.
Grosser said the 2010 Census didn’t ask for sexual orientation, and neither do college campuses. However, she said the number was not important.
“Do we need a number to know that we need services?” Grosser said.
The Williams Institute, a sexual orientation law and public-policy organization, estimated that in 2005 there were 8.8 million gay, lesbian and bisexual people living in the United States.
If that number holds true for Fresno State, than that would put the number of LGBT+ students at just under 3 percent. In comparison, African-American students make up 5.3 percent of the university’s population.
Fresno State has programs that partner with University Outreach Services in order to aid students, usually first-generation college students, during their transition from high school to college.
For example, University Migrant Services connects with the children of migrant farmworkers, the Southeast Asian Educational Conference provides that service for the Central Valley’s Asian population and so on. However, there is no program at Fresno State that reaches out specifically to LGBT+ students.
Frances Pena-Olgin, the director of University Outreach Services, said outreach programs that tailor to specific groups are sponsored by student organizations. The Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan (MEChA), for instance, sponsors the Chicano Youth Conference.
Pena-Olgin said University Outreach Services takes part in college fairs and high school outreach without aiming its services to any specific group, other than the educational conferences.
“We provide a service to all students,” Pena-Olgin said. “In that process, the assumption is we are reaching every student.”
The goal, Pena-Olgin added, is to provide the same level of service to all students in order to reach the most possible.
Pena-Olgin said interested high school and junior college students are asked to fill out an interest card with personal information including an optional ethnicity designation. However, it does not ask for sexual preference, so identifying LGBT+ students is not an easy task.
Maxine McDonald, assistant vice president of student success services, is charged with retention across campus. She said her office does not differentiate between students based on any criteria other than the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which deals with low-income, first-generation students.
McDonald said EOP is designed to serve a broad spectrum of students who need assistance. She also said the Women’s Resource Center provides most of the support for LGBT+ students.
Jenny Whyte, the coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, said Fresno State does not have a separate position for outreach to the LGBT+ community.
“I think it would be terrific,” Whyte said.
Whyte said that the LGBT+ community has a presence on campus, but without knowing the number of students it would likely be problematic to get the university to fund any special programs.
The Women’s Resource Center together with the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute held training in April to revive the LGBT+ Allies Network. Whyte said it existed on campus about five years ago, but it needed a renewed commitment.
Leslie Weiser, a licensed psychologist in the Student Health Center, provides a support group for LGBT+ students.
Weiser said she has difficulty filling all the seats during the weekly meeting.
“It’s difficult to get any students to come to any group,” Weiser said.
The intention, Weiser said, is to create a safe space where students can talk and feel a sense of community.
Weiser said it is important for minority students to be able to feel supported, and to be with like-minded people.
4. SUNY Oswego, May 11, 2010
State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126-3599
McHugh withdraws from Oswego's Commencement
Secretary of the Army John McHugh will not attend SUNY Oswego’s 149th Commencement on Saturday, May 15, to receive an honorary degree. He informed college President Deborah F. Stanley of his decision Monday.
Referencing objections by some members of the campus community to his appearance, he explained, “it is clear my presence at the ceremony might well have a disruptive effect.”
A number of faculty, staff and students had planned to wear buttons supporting repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and a few students had more stridently objected to McHugh’s appearance and planned a protest.
The college had stood by its invitation to McHugh in expectation of an opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action. College officials engaged those protesting current policy and McHugh as its symbol. Stanley said she felt confident that the college administration and the potential protesters had reached a mutual accommodation intended to preserve the decorum of the day for graduates and their families while not squelching free expression on a timely issue that is a matter of debate across the nation.
- In late April, the college president responded to e-mail messages from concerned students, saying, “People of good will hold diverse opinions on the issues that matter in our society. We are obligated to inform ourselves on the issues, to speak our minds with civility and to listen to opposing views with respect.”
- An educational session on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy regarding gays in the military was held during College Hour on May 5, sponsored by the union representing faculty and professional staff and by the student organization Pride Alliance.
- In subsequent days, college officials worked with the leader of the student protest on its terms: the protest was to involve an expected 20 or so students picketing on a lawn near the Campus Center, where commencement ceremonies take place indoors.
“Civic responsibility is demonstrated as much in free expression as it is in listening to different views on important subjects,” President Stanley said. She said she “regretted missing a chance to see our free society in meaningful and educational exchange.”
5. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Scholar Rejected by Marquette Says Her Work Is Noncontroversial at Seattle U.
By Audrey Williams June
When Marquette University announced last week that it was rescinding the offer of a dean's job it had made to Jodi O'Brien, a sociologist at Seattle University, the move thrust the Wisconsin institution and Ms. O'Brien into the national spotlight.
Professors at Seattle and Marquette, both Jesuit institutions, were quick to express their displeasure that Marquette had qualms about making Ms. O'Brien dean of its College of Arts and Sciences, a move that the university said was triggered by the content of some of her scholarly works but not her identity as a lesbian. Faculty members and students have protested the decision, expressing concerns about academic-freedom violations and potential discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Ms. O'Brien, who is on sabbatical from her post at Seattle, talked about the experience in an e-mail interview with The Chronicle. She declined to give specific answers about her perceptions of Marquette's motives and how she planned to respond to the withdrawn job offer, but discussed her work and her feelings about the events.
Q. How did you find out that Marquette was rescinding your offer, and what was your immediate reaction to that? Did you have any inkling at all that such a move was in the works?
A. On Monday afternoon, May 3, I received a phone call from the provost and the president. They informed me that they would not be able to proceed with the hire. This outcome took me completely by surprise.
Q. Was your scholarship an issue when you were hired at Seattle University, or since then?
A. My scholarship has never been a concern at Seattle University. I was one of only a handful of openly gay faculty members when I was hired at Seattle. In general my scholarship is mainstream social psychology with an emphasis on institutional dynamics, including religion, education, and law. I began to focus my teaching and writing more centrally on inequality and prejudice (including race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality) after coming to Seattle University. The dynamic academic environment of Seattle University, the influence of the Jesuit mission, and the urgent need for research and education on discrimination have shaped my scholarship significantly over the past decade.
Q. Marquette and Seattle University, although both Jesuit institutions, aren't exactly alike. What was so appealing to you about Marquette that you wanted to work there?
A. I wanted to continue to work in a Jesuit university. Marquette is a top Jesuit University with excellent programs. I considered the offer of the deanship very carefully, including the move to Milwaukee and the surrounding political and cultural environment. Ultimately, I was persuaded by the vibrant voices of the faculty and students and their vision for the college. I felt a vocational pull to rise to the challenge of working with them to achieve their goals of national scholarship excellence and expanded engagement with local and regional communities.
Q. The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seattle University, in a statement of support, has said that you're a valued member of the community there, and professors and students at Marquette have criticized the withdrawal of the university's offer. What do those expressions of support mean to you?
A. The spirited support of my colleagues reflects the inclusivity of the Jesuit mission as I have experienced it at Seattle University over the past 15 years. This mission—with its focus on excellence, faith, leadership, and social justice—has been at the center of my own evolution as a teacher and a scholar. This show of support has deepened my commitment to this mission.
6. Seattle University Spectator, May 12, 2010
Campion Hall, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
SU prof O'Brien was eager to take dean position at Marquette
By Katie Farden
The contract Jodi O’Brien had signed to accept the dean position at Marquette University was in the mail headed for Milwaukee when she got an unexpected phone call May 2 from Provost John Pauly. Pauly was soon joined on the line by President Robert Wild, S.J., who delivered the news some say she never would have gotten if she wasn’t gay: Marquette was withdrawing its job offer.
“I was stunned,” said O’Brien, who is openly homosexual and has taught sociology at Seattle University for 15 years. “I had no idea this was in the works.”
Officials at the Midwestern Jesuit university maintain O’Brien’s sexual orientation was not what led them to retract the offer they had made her six weeks earlier.
However, a number of faculty and students at Seattle U and Marquette have vocalized strong concerns that university officials unfairly denied O’Brien the job because she is gay and her work contains accounts of lesbian sex.
“I think the president [of Marquette] is responding to people who are concerned with what I represent,” O’Brien told The Spectator. “I do not think the opinion of those people represents Marquette as a university.”
Two Milwaukee archdiocese leaders, judicial vicar Paul Hartmann and Archbishop Jerome Listecki, expressed concern over Marquette looking at O’Brien for the dean position, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported early Wednesday.
Listecki had contacted Wild to relay concerns clergy and lay leaders had with O’Brien serving at Marquette, the archbishop’s spokeswoman, Julie Wolf, told the Sentinel.
Hartmann wrote a letter to the faculty search committee considering O’Brien March 3. According to the Sentinel, he wrote O’Brien’s scholarship might “create dichotomies and cause tensions” for the Catholic university’s identity.
More than 100 Marquette students protested the decision Thursday. The university’s faculty senate convened Monday to discuss the situation, but did not call for Wild’s resignation or for the university to re-offer O’Brien the dean position—actions some say Marquette should take to remedy the situation.
Some have suggested Marquette could face legal ramifications for withdrawing the offer. O’Brien, when asked if she was considering legal action, didn’t offer specifics but said, “I’m in conversation with the university about the best next steps. My hope is that the situation can become an opportunity for institutional learning.”
O’Brien said Wild was concerned it would be difficult for her to serve as dean. According to O’Brien, Wild said she would receive “too much distraction from people external to the university who did not support my appointment.”
The news that she would not be a dean at Marquette—Wisconsin’s largest private university that has a undergraduate student population of 8,000, roughly double the population of Seattle U—left her disappointed, she said in a phone interview with The Spectator Monday.
“It was my impression that I would be a dean who could serve [Marquette] well,” O’Brien said.
From her visits to campus, she got the sense that students and faculty at the 90-acre urban campus “were very eager to have a dean who represented the diverse interests and voices in the college.”
O’Brien was first contacted about the position in fall of 2008.
Marquette’s faculty search committee selected her as a finalist in spring 2009, but O’Brien withdrew from the search shortly after due to a death in the family that spring. Marquette closed its search without filling the position.
In fall 2009, Marquette started looking for a new dean again. A representative from Marquette contacted O’Brien asking her to resubmit her application, an offer she initially declined, O’Brien said. After conversing with colleagues, however, she changed her mind and re-entered the search process.
It was on O’Brien’s birthday, March 24, when Pauly called her to make the offer to serve as the next Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Dean.
“I was excited,” O’Brien said. “I was very impressed with what I read about students and programs in the university.”
O’Brien returned to Milwaukee in April to meet with Pauly and the interim dean of the college Jeanne Hossenlopp to hammer out final details of her contract.
When she returned home April 20, she signed a contract and returned it to Marquette, whose officials had already signed their part of the contract.
“At that point I was told the university communications person would be contacting me to put together the public announcement,” said O’Brien.
In the meantime, O’Brien and her partner hired a real estate agent to help them look for houses in Milwaukee. She signed and mailed the contract back to Marquette. And she shared the news of her appointment with Seattle U’s Provost Isiaah Crawford and President Steven Sundborg, S.J.
It was bittersweet saying goodbye to her colleagues at Seattle U, a university “that has truly been a home to me for the past 15 years,” O’Brien said. But colleagues and friends encouraged her to take the position at Marquette, she said, where she would preside over a college of 30 academic majors and 250 faculty.
“I received a lot of support in the decision from colleagues at Seattle and elsewhere, who all suggested this was the appropriate next step for my career,” she said.
O’Brien’s experience as the faculty chair who oversaw the Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work Departments at Seattle U made her a strong candidate for the dean position, said David Powers, dean of Seattle U’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“I think she was highly qualified” he said, adding that “[Marquette] certainly thought she was qualified, too.”
Wild said O’Brien’s academic writings forced Marquette to abruptly reconsider her for the position.
“We found some strongly negative statements about marriage and family,” Wild told the New York Times Thursday.
O’Brien has served as Seattle U’s Louis B. Gaffney Endowed Chair since 2007, a position the university reserves for a faculty member who has distinguished herself in support the Jesuit mission, Powers said.
O’Brien said at this point, she plans to return to Seattle U to teach in the fall.
Katie may be reached at email@example.com
7. Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2010
P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Listecki raised alarm over Marquette hiring
By Annysa Johnson, Sharif Durhams and Katelyn Ferral
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee separately raised red flags over Marquette's hiring of a Seattle University professor as Arts and Sciences dean.
Listecki called Marquette President Father Robert A. Wild about the university's offer to Jodi O'Brien after receiving calls from clergy and lay leaders, the archbishop's spokeswoman said.
Also expressing concerns about O'Brien's appointment was Father Paul Hartmann, the archdiocese's judicial vicar. Hartmann sent a March 3 letter to the chair of the search committee that said the gender studies professor "pursues subject matter that seems destined to actually create dichotomies and cause tensions (if not contradictions) with Marquette's Catholic mission and identity."
In the letter, obtained Tuesday by the Journal Sentinel, Hartmann referenced O'Brien but didn't name her.
The comments from Listecki's spokeswoman and Hartmann's letter are the first public indications that archdiocese leaders raised concerns about O'Brien.
At a listening session with about 400 students Tuesday evening, Wild said the university's decision to rescind the offer to O'Brien was "not about donor or outside influence," but he added that "there is a variety of input from outside the university" on the hiring of high-level positions.
Pressed about the role of Listecki, if any, in the decision, Wild said the archbishop "can speak for himself."
Also Tuesday, Wild told students that the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will be hired internally. He spoke in response to a student's question about how much the search for a dean has cost the university and whether that would be reflected in tuition costs.
"As you can guess, it's not been my best five days as president," said Wild. "The level of anger has been intense."
Hartmann's letter came just as search committee members were recommending two of the three finalists for the position to Wild and Provost John J. Pauly. Hartmann wrote that he hoped a new dean would successfully meld faith and reason and strengthen ties between Marquette and the church.
"My greatest fear, as a priest, alum, and as president of a high school which sends dozens of new students to (Marquette) each fall, is that the important decision to be made in this moment will instead dichotomize university from Church and reason from faith," Hartmann wrote.
Hartmann, who did not provide the letter to the Journal Sentinel, said he wrote of his concerns about all three of the finalists, in part because they lacked backgrounds in theology or philosophy.
"I was speaking from the position that this is an opportunity that should not be missed. . . . An opportunity for Marquette to continue to pursue a strong and clear Catholic identity," said Hartmann, president of Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School and a canon lawyer who teaches part time at Marquette's law school.
Marquette said last week that it rescinded its offer to O'Brien, a lesbian who has written extensively on issues of gender and sexual orientation, saying she was not a good fit with the university's Catholic mission and identity.
Julie Wolf, the archbishop's spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to the Journal Sentinel Tuesday night that Listecki "wasn't sure his concerns (have) as much impact as those expressed directly to (Father) Wild by other constituents. Nonetheless, he is happy that (Father) Wild has a deep appreciation for the Catholic identity and mission of Marquette University."
"He wasn't sure if he would have any influence because, as you know, Marquette operates independently with its own board of regents," Wolf said.
"But he felt bound to convey these concerns, just as he would feel bound to do with any Catholic institution in the archdiocese."
Listecki said in a forum at the Milwaukee Press Club this spring that he supports academic freedom. However he was critical of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker last year, and has said that he would expect any Catholic institution to at least notify him before extending an invitation to someone whose positions are not in keeping with Catholic teaching.
While Marquette and the archdiocese acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that Wild and Listecki talked about O'Brien's appointment, Marquette spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfeil emphasized in an e-mail Tuesday that the decisions regarding the appointment were made only by Marquette officials..
Tuesday evening, the mood at the listening session with students was tense, with some students walking out of the meeting after reading statements demanding Wild's immediate resignation and requesting that the university offer the job again to O'Brien. Some said they would never donate money to the university while others said they would be proud alumni.
"It's disheartening. We came here for answers and are left with nothing," said Henry Thomas, a senior and former Marquette student president.
Senior Micaela Robb-McGrath said she was glad she attended the session.
"Because of this discussion I realize the sensitivity of the issue and what I do take from this is that the university will heal itself," said Robb-McGrath.
Students asked Wild why the offer was rescinded but he declined to comment, repeating that it was a "personnel matter." Though he did not give additional details about O'Brien's application and the selection process, Wild said he's confident Marquette can move past the controversy.
Christopher Miller, vice president for student affairs, added: "We are in fact profoundly sorry to see this pain and hurt clearly conveyed here. . . . This pain and hurt you're feeling. We're feeling it too."
8. Fox 6 Now, May 13, 2010
9001 N Green Bay Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53209
Milwaukee Archbishop explains his part in Jodi O'Brien's rescinded job offer
By Cathy Orosz
(Click link for video.)
WITI-TV, MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee's Archbishops explains his role in Marquette University's rescinded offer to an openly gay professor. FOX6 had the opportunity to talk with Archbishop Jerome Listecki about the concerns he passed along.
Openly gay Professor Jodi O'Brien thought she was becoming a dean at Marquette, but the offer was abruptly rescinded.
The school's President, Father Wild, says sexuality had nothing to do with it.
There were concerns relayed by Milwaukee's Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki. "During that conversation I issued my concerns that I'd been receiving from other clerics and from other people and shared them with Father Wild."
Listecki says those concerns were not about O'Brien's sexual orientation, but rather her teaching on the subject. "Her areas of concentration in terms of her studies seemed always to be in the areas of gender sexuality, those type of things. so what was that going to bring to the table in terms of understanding."
Father Robert Wild has denied any concerns about academic freedom. "Faculty members have, should have the ability to write whatever they want to say on any topic of their choosing within their area of expertise."
Did the Archbishop suggest Marquette shouldn't hire O'Brien? "That's a decision that Marquette ultimately makes, my job is to share the concerns."
Archbishop Listecki says, "I for one applaud the decision. I think what they were trying to do is trying to find a fit that would be both in line with the mission of Marquette and the Catholic identity.
O'Brien is expected to make a statement about the rescinded job offer soon. As of May 13th she has not decided to press charges against Marquette.
9. Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2010
P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Job retraction at Marquette University teaches intolerance
By Jim Stingl
In the name of serious research and scholarship, I've been combing Jodi O'Brien's writings for the dirty parts.
Whatever is in there must be pretty juicy, I figured, if it caused Marquette University to rescind its offer to hire O'Brien as the school's dean of arts and sciences.
Because we all know, of course, that the last-minute decision had absolutely and positively nothing to do with O'Brien being a loud and proud lesbian. Or so Marquette insists.
So maybe it's something she said. Don't ask, don't tell may have a third component at Marquette - don't write. Especially provocative stuff that might upset influential alumni.
Even after a weeklong firestorm over all this, we still don't know the precise reason O'Brien was told to stay away shortly after she accepted the job. She chairs the anthropology and sociology department at Seattle University, another Jesuit institution, and so far hasn't been turned to a pillar of salt there.
Marquette President Robert Wild is hiding behind the old reliable "it's a personnel matter" dodge. He announced in March that he would retire in June 2011, and now he's picking off the tar and feathers and probably wishing he had left earlier. His proud legacy will bear this bruise.
It turned out Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and the archdiocese judicial vicar were telling Marquette that O'Brien was the wrong choice. The school has put out some vague statements about O'Brien's academic writings being a bad fit for Marquette's mission.
It's wonderful to see Marquette students speaking out against the way O'Brien was treated. It gives you hope that the young will lead us out of all this foolishness and fear over sexual orientation.
But I don't know why anyone would be surprised by Marquette's predicament. Catholic teaching on homosexuality splits hairs by saying that gays and lesbians should be accepted, but those who physically express their love are sinners. It's chastity or the highway.
"The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are always violations of divine and natural law," according to the rules of the game I found on catholic.com.
So go ahead and be gay if you must, but don't dare act on it now or ever. And welcome to Marquette!
O'Brien may wish Marquette never saw this sentence in a surprisingly steamy essay she wrote under the dull title, "Changing the Subject" in a collection of pieces about cyber sex:
"Queer sex is about following the desires of the flesh into an unnamed, uncategorized, uncharted realm, and doing something that neither of you can 'code.' "
Academic writing like this has a long life online, rather like the Facebook keg photos we warn our college students about. But O'Brien studies and teaches gender and sexuality. It's a legitimate pursuit.
In another essay, she nails this sad truth: "In recent years, watching as one state after another pursued anti-gay legislation, I've grown less and less comfortable with the realization that, for my parents, as well as many colleagues, friends and neighbors, individual lesbians and gay men are fine. But as a group, we remain sinners/deviants/fill-in-the-blanks from whom the rest of the 'normal' population deserves protection."
Marquette University might think it's protecting students, but what it's really doing is spreading a message of intolerance disguised as God's will.
Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
After Coming Out as a Lesbian, a Student May Owe $80,000 to Army ROTC
By Don Troop
Four years ago, Sara Isaacson had a full-ride ROTC scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a dream of becoming an Army doctor like her grandfather. Today she may owe nearly $80,000 for the cost of books and out-of-state tuition that the Army paid the university on her behalf.
Ms. Isaacson, who identified as a straight woman when she started college, says she acknowledged to herself last November that she was lesbian. After consulting with trusted friends and advisers on the campus, she revealed her orientation in a formal memorandum to Lt. Col. Monte Yoder, head of the university's Army ROTC program. That put her in violation of Defense Directive 1304.26, better known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the 1993 Clinton administration compromise that allows gay people to serve in the military as long as they do not divulge their sexual orientation.
She was notified in March that she was being discharged and told that a recommendation had been made that she repay $79,265.14 to the government.
The chemistry major from Port Washington, Wis., says the policy places people at odds with one the Army's key virtues: "I didn't feel like I could be a good officer if I didn't have integrity."
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Ms. Isaacson says, forces her and other gay and lesbian cadets to behave dishonestly to themselves and others. "On a college campus, where so much identity development takes place," she says, the policy "puts people in a really difficult position."
Colonel Yoder, who acknowledges that the integrity argument is a strong one, nonetheless maintains that Ms. Isaacson could have saved herself a good deal of money and hassle if she'd simply adhered to the rule. "If you were to serve as a gay person," he says, "nobody's going to ask, and nobody's going to tell."
Ms. Isaacson, however, describes campus ROTC and the larger military as environments where hiding one's sexual orientation is difficult if not impossible. Cadets are expected to bring dates to social events, pictures of spouses and partners are visible on desktops, and service members are obliged to identify their next of kin.
Colonel Yoder responds that while he is married to a woman, no one is allowed to ask him about it. If he showed up at a military ball with a man, he says, no one could ask him about it. "I was very clear with Miss Isaacson about that," he says. "I told her I won't ask."
But Ms. Isaacson, who says she still wishes she could fulfill her scholarship obligation, says that she was unwilling to lie about who she is. "My core beliefs and my values are more important to me than the money," she says.
Recent court decisions over the recovery of tuition costs side with the military, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that serves people affected by Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "If service members are deemed to be coming out as gay or lesbian 'voluntarily,' they can expect the military to recoup against them on a prorated basis," says Aaron Tax, the organization's legal director.
January 25 was the date that Ms. Isaacson had delivered her letter to Colonel Yoder. Two days later, President Obama made a promise during his State of the Union Address: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."
That effort continues, although Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote a letter to the chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee two weeks ago asking that the repeal effort be delayed until a Pentagon study on Don't Ask, Don't Tell is completed in December.
Nonetheless, opponents of the policy are hopeful that change could be afoot later this year. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network says that a "delayed implementation" effort to repeal the language of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the new Defense Authorization Bill (S 3280) is within two votes of passage in a vote coming this month in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Repeal advocates are hoping to offer a similar amendment in coming weeks on the House floor.
Ms. Isaacson, who visited Capitol Hill this week to speak to North Carolina's Congressional delegation about overturning the rule, says that while she has been told that her battalion has recommended that she repay the money, Army officials have yet to issue a final decision.
"I wonder," she says, "if some of that is that, with the discussion of the repeal, they don't know what to do with me."
11. The Georgia Voice, May 14, 2010
1904 Monroe Dr. Suite 130, Atlanta, GA 30324
Gay Morehouse students carjacked, robbed, called ‘faggots’
By Dyana Bagby
The four young men carjacked and kidnapped near the Morehouse College campus last month are all gay, according to one of the victims, who alleges the suspects used anti-gay slurs against them in the attack.
However, there was no mention of anti-gay slurs in the police report for the April 25 incident, said Sgt. Curtis Davenport, public affairs officer for the Atlanta Police Department.
“APD is not aware of any anti-gay slurs used in the commission of this crime. There were no reports of this made to us,” Davenport said.
Three suspects have been arrested. Jevontay Fleetwood, 17, and Darius Hill, 19, are charged with armed robbery, carjacking and kidnapping and are being held in the Fulton County Jail without bond, said Davenport. A juvenile was also arrested.
One of the victims, who asked to not be identified, said he knew they were not targeted because they were gay. But the memory of being attacked still has him nervous.
“They used the word ‘faggot’ a lot, and said we were going to burn in hell, called us names,” said the 20-year-old man who attends American InterContinental University in Dunwoody. His three friends attend Morehouse College. The three Morehouse students declined interview requests.
The four men did hold a press conference at Morehouse on April 26, but did not want their faces shown because one of the suspects was still at large.
On April 25, the four men were driving from church to the Morehouse campus and stopped at a gas station, said the American Intercontinental student.
“We saw these guys walking toward us and thought they were just going to walk past us. Next thing we know we have three guns to our heads,” he said. The suspects demanded the keys to their Buick Lacrosse and demanded their possessions.
“I was thinking, ‘Come on guys,’” the student said. “But we were all really scared and did everything they told us — we gave them our cell phones, our earrings, money.”
The student and a friend were told to get in the trunk of the car while his other two friends were ordered to sit in the car with the suspects.
The student’s friend in the trunk with him kept his cell phone and attempted to call the Atlanta Police Department several times and finally called Morehouse police.
“We could hear they wanted to go to an ATM. My friend still had his cell phone and called the police several times. He finally got in touch with the Morehouse police. I popped the safety lock in the trunk to see where we were and could tell we were by the West End,” he said.
The suspects drove to a Wachovia bank where the Clark Atlanta and Morehouse police arrived at about the same time. The three suspects then jumped from the car.
Jevontay Fleetwood and the juvenile were apprehended at the scene. Darius Hill, who ran from the scene, was arrested May 4. The crime is not considered a hate crime by police.
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