Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mixed Feelings

So earlier this week we had the groups Soulforce come make a pitstop at our university and talk about their issues. I for one thought it was pretty cool for them to come over. I mean, here in Utah we don't see too much of protests or demonstrations or anything like that (cause we're all pretty similar, I guess), so this was something big. The administration had been sending emails for a few weeks about how we need to treat Soulforce with respect and dignity, and not to fight against them verbally and certainly not physically.

Either way, they came on Monday. And you know what? It was a very peaceful, relaxed day with tons of people talking to eachother in the main courtyard/commons area. There weren't any people yelling, waving their arms, or even raising their voices. I was very impressed. But I wasn't the only one. Even some of the Soulforce people were impressed. One said "It was truly remarkable. I don't think we've had crowds like this at any other school where we weren't openly welcome on campus." I seriously think that they didn't expect anything close to the welcome they received - instead of harshness, they received kind youth who respected their decisions and lifestyles. We may believe that how they live is wrong, but we still accepted them as youth and fellow members of the community, and treated them as such.

The thing that bothers me is that some Equality Riders (as they call themselves) couldn't take the fact that nothing was going wrong. At least it seemed that way to me and others. The majority were well behaved and maybe even a little taken back with our hospitality, but there were a few that seemed bent on making a scene. There were 5 on Monday that breached their agreement with the administration and began making speeches about discrimination and what-not, and were quietly escorted off of the campus. On Tuesday there were many that opposed the administration and were once again quietly escorted off campus. Each of those escorted off were cited trespassing violations by police officers and allowed to go on their merry way.

Now, that would have been fine with me, if they hadn't blown up the story on their website. The headlings for both days that they were on our campus start off with something about Equality Riders being arrested. First off there were no handcuffs, and second they were only citations. They seemed to be looking for some way to make a splash in the news, somehow, and went ahead and broke their agreement to do so. Their website is also pretty inaccurate about the history of this university's sponsoring religion.

I guess my point is that we received them all with open minds and peaceful dialogue, and when a few saw that they couldn't rile us up to any action, they went ahead and made some noise (literally). Then they made big news about the consequential discipline enforced (part of the agreement they had made) and inaccurately stated the sponsoring religion's past actions. I kind of feel a little unappreciated, or betrayed, after we tried hard to include them. Hopefully all that was only the actions of a few, and most of them are really grateful about the way we treated them. Some even mentioned how this was one of their best stops. I hope it changed their views about us.

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