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SGA discusses ways to combat hate

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SGA discusses ways to combat hate

Professor Robert Hirmonimus-Wendt  spoke to the Student Government Association Tuesday to discuss ways to combat the actions that will take place at Saturday's game.

Professor Robert Hirmonimus-Wendt spoke to the Student Government Association Tuesday to discuss ways to combat the actions that will take place at Saturday's game.

Felicia Selmon/ Courier Staff

Professor Robert Hirmonimus-Wendt spoke to the Student Government Association Tuesday to discuss ways to combat the actions that will take place at Saturday's game.

Felicia Selmon/ Courier Staff

Felicia Selmon/ Courier Staff

Professor Robert Hirmonimus-Wendt spoke to the Student Government Association Tuesday to discuss ways to combat the actions that will take place at Saturday's game.

Marc Ramirez, News editor

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Sociology professor Robert Hironimus-Wendt opened up Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting speaking in regards to the events that will be taking place Saturday.

“As most of us know, this Saturday a group called the Westboro Baptist Church will be arriving on our campus,” he said. “They’re coming here specifically to speak their hatred of homosexuality and that is their constitutional right.”

Having served in the military, Hirmonimus-Wendt is a fan of the Constitution as he’s sworn to defend it. However, he brought forth ways that the student body could exercise their rights to respond to this act. As a fan of Martin Luther King Jr., he also references that we will never conquer hate with hate only love can do that.

“Another group will be organizing a session on Saturday, there’s a Facebook page that you can go to and it’s the ‘WIU Rally for Love’,” he said. “This group is organized by adult members of the community and faculty members and they plan to have a counter protest. They are planning to meet at 11 a.m. in Q-Lot and are planning to have a celebration of diversity.”

He explains the message intended by this group is to spread diversity, acceptance and tolerance for those who are different. This is something he believes isn’t new to the Macomb community, just as the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church is nothing new either.

“One thing you should know about Westboro Baptist Church, which is not Baptist nor a church, is that they peruse publicity and attention at every moment,” Hirmonimus- Wendt said. “The reason they are coming here is because there is a football player on the other team who is openly gay.”

He also reveals that five percent of Americans are gay or lesbian meaning in the athletic community at Western, there are bound to be athletes who feel the same way.

“This group is coming to our campus, our beloved community, to denounce homosexuality and their goal is to get a rise out of us,” Hirmonimus-Wendt said. “They’re sending a message of hate, so my real question to you as student leaders is, what message do you want sent when the national light is upon us.”

Hirmonimus-Wendt then explained there are things we can do as a community, we can shun and completely ignore them, but that would suggest we don’t have an opinion since no action means no opinion. We can resist with resistance, which is fighting hate with hate he explains.

“When all is said and done there will be one message of hate by one group of adults and one message of tolerance by another group but only 10 times bigger,” he said. “And then when the game starts and the player who is gay takes the field, it will all be over. We really won’t have sent the right tone, we really won’t have sent the right message.” When speaking with students in various forums, he has realized that all have come to the conclusion this isn’t about Western and whether or not we tolerate diversity. It’s about the athlete from Terre Haute, Ind. who’s also been harassed by a similar organization for years. Hirmonimus-Wendt went on to explain that our community cannot take the spotlight off the person who’s had to overcome so much adversity to show we’re accepting of the LGBTQA community, we need to stand with and show support for him.

“You can send a message Saturday,” he said. “After the kick-off there will be few thousand people in that stadium and there will be a gay football player who’s been harassed all semester, you can send him a message of love. You can send him a message that you appreciate the hardships and difficulty that have been forced upon him and the national spotlight though no fault of his.” When speaking with students, Hirmonimus-Wendt was approached with the idea of everyone bringing a brightly colored shirt and at halftime; the community would fill the stands with the colors of the rainbow similar to those at other sports events.

“Saturday is just a few days away and I know a lot of students are going home because you don’t get a lot of time for Thanksgiving vacation,” he said. “I urge the student body in some manner, some way, some how, to send a message of love to this one student that is being forgotten. And let this one student know, that we appreciate him and the sacrifices he’s made.”

Moving through the meeting, the next pertinent thing on the agenda was SGA Bill 2018/2019.002 in regards to students being able to appeal grades in courses that no longer apply to their current course of study.

Joe Reinert, College of Business and Technology Senator and primary author on the bill, explained to the legislative body that if they were to look to the people beside them, chances are one has changed their major since starting at Western; therefore, this is something that could impact lots of people at this institution.

“If we do pass this bill, we would be the first institution to have said policy out forward,” Reinert said. “The reason that this policy has not yet been out forward by other institutions as told by the Registrar’sOffice because that would affect the current ability to put forth financial aid at the federal level to our students aid. So if we were to enact this bill we would be making an ask for our University administration to advocate for the new policy so that it doesn’t affect our federal aid.”

Reinert continues by explaining that having poor grades on your transcript that no longer are applicable to your course study can affect your opportunity to join organizations on campus. He brought up the example of Greek organizations that require students to have a grade point average of a 2.5 or higher.

Other authors Nathan Simon, Inter-Hall Council Senator, and Michael Harmon, Director of Finance, shared personal anecdotes about how they feel this would benefit students in the long run. Kyle Ramlow, Senator-at-Large, yielded to redundancy.

However, others in the room were in opposition of the bill for reasons such as accreditation issues arising, meaning students could possibly not receive financial aid or the University could lose state funding. People also believed it should be a student’s responsibility to hold themselves accountable to attain good grades rather than attempt to appeal bad grades. It was also brought up that students could retake a class for grade replacement to better the grade.

“If we were to remove a grade completely from a transcript that would become an accreditation issue,” Colton Markey, Director of Academic Affairs said. “We would no longer be an accredited institution so we can’t do that.”

SGA Bill 2018/2019.002 was ultimately failed by a vote of 6-10-2.

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SGA discusses ways to combat hate