Why Occupy Hamline?
On November 6th, Minnesotans will be asked to vote on an amendment, which will permanently define (enshrine) in our state constitution that marriage is between “…One man and one woman”. Changing the state is like taking a brick out of the wall – Hamline is one of those bricks in winning the state.
Hamline University has historically supported human rights and social justice, however, President Linda Hanson and the Board of Trustees have decided to remain neutral on the issue
Reasons to Occupy Hamline:
- Hamline University students were promised that this campus would uphold its values of social justice and that the campus was therefore a safe space. Hamline Administration’s neutral position is in direct conflict with Hamline’s mission and core values.
- Hamline Administration votes on major decisions without taking in student and faculty consideration.
- Board of Trustees made their decision before the faculty finished voting on a course of action. Faculty overwhelmingly voted that the University oppose the same-sex marriage amendment.
- Similarly, the United Methodist Church Conference also voted in opposition of the MN same-sex marriage amendment. Star Tribune noted that “A group of churches submitted the resolution, drawing on the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which states ‘all persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence.'” Meanwhile, Hamline University prides itself of its Methodist affiliation.
- Subsequent protests have failed to make President Hanson and the Board reconsider their position and realize that they have an obligation to take a position and protect the students, staff, faculty, and vistors who could be discriminated against by this amendment. Occupy Hamline, will serve as a public reminder that some of Hamline supports human rights. Occupy Hamline will let fellow students, friends, and families know that we are in solidarity with them.
- Hamline University has taken non-neutral positions before on issues. This conflicts directly with their argument for “unfettered exposition of ideas” and freedom for “intellectual inquiry” on campus. When civil and human rights were being violated during Apartheid in the 80’s, Hamline students and faculty called on Hamline University to take a position – Hamline listened and they divested from South Africa in order to support the end of Apartheid. In 2007, Hamline students were suspended for donning blackface at an off campus party. Clearly its okay to punish students when they violate a social justice policy, but when the Board of Trustees feel like compromising Hamline’s core value of social justice, it’s totally fine.
- Last year, Tom Emmer was supposedly hired and then his contract taken away after the Hamline Administration received backlash for hiring someone with conservative viewpoints. Hamline’s diversity policy was consulted in this decision and it brought a lot of attention in the news. This is yet another Hamline decision that conflicts with their current neutral stance on the same-sex marriage amendment.
The President’s Letter – September 24th – 4:04 pm
Hamline University President Linda Hanson issued a letter to the Hamline community. In the letter, President Linda Hanson stated that Hamline University would take a neutral position on the same-sex marriage amendment. This decision was made by the Hamline University Board of Trustees. The letter is quoted below:
“Dear Hamline Community,
In recent weeks, a number of you have urged the University to take a stand in opposition to the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution which would limit marriage in the state to a union of one man and one woman. These activities are all within the spirit and foundational ethos of a university—we think about societal issues, debate them, and then as citizens, act upon our convictions.
Significant and careful consideration of this matter has been given by me, the Board of Trustees and many of you in the community. Such consideration has led to the conclusion that Hamline will not take a position in opposition to or in favor of the amendment.
Those who have urged public opposition by the University have passionately and eloquently cited Hamline’s core values and history of inclusivity. The University’s position should not be viewed as supportive of the amendment or as a rejection of these values.
Rather, the intent is to allow for civil discourse and civic engagement by all members of our community. As a diverse university made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Methodist church, and our neighbors, each individual and group should have the freedom to express their approval of or opposition to the amendment. It is extremely important that Hamline remain a place where, in the words of John Wesley, “the very act of intellectual inquiry is sacred.”
I know that we each individually have a personal view—I certainly do as a citizen and voter. And we will not all agree. But Hamline is best served as a university to allow for intellectual discourse and the unfettered exposition of ideas and opinions in regard to this amendment.