Two students at Southern Methodist University are alleging that SMU officials have violated the school’s non-discrimination policy by barring the students from running for a student senate seat because of their race.
The two students, Brad Julsonnet and Andrew Hemming, sought to run for “special interest seats” – seats that were set aside by the Student Senate for minorities.
There are a total of four special interest seats on the Student Senate. This includes an African-American seat, an Asian seat, a Hispanic seat, and an international student seat.
Both Brad and Andrew are white and American.
“They told us we could not run because of our nationality and ethnicity,” said Brad Julsonnet, an SMU junior. Julsonnet is also the Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas at SMU and sought to run for the “International Student” seat. Hemming, an officer in the Young Conservatives, signed up to run for the African-American seat.
According to Hemming, the two candidates filled out an application to run for the seats on February 10th and attended the candidate’s meeting two days later. The morning after the candidate’s meeting, both Hemming and Julsonnet received an email telling them that they were ineligible to run for the seats that they signed up for.
“They would not let us run. We would have to run as write-ins, but even then we would be disqualified,” said Hemming.
About a week before the election, on February 15th, Julsonnet and Hemming went to the Office of Institutional Access and Equity to meet with Beth Wilson, the Director of Institutional Access and Equity. According to Hemming, the meeting had been set up a couple days before the 15th. Hemming said that when they showed up, they were informed that the meeting was canceled due to “illness”. They rescheduled.
That meeting was also canceled, this time due to “jury duty”.
Several weeks passed and so did the Student Senate elections. The two had delivered a written complaint and even threatened to take legal action. It was not until April 11th that Beth Wilson sent an email to Hemming saying that no violation of SMU’s non-discrimination policy was found by her office.
Julsonnet and Hemming disagree with Wilson. They have cited Section 2.1 of the University Policy Manual: “The University will not discriminate in any employment practice, education program or educational activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran status.”
Hemming points to several sections of the Student Code of Conduct, including Section 2.06, which states that all applicable state, local, and federal laws must be obeyed at all times. He also cites section 4.02(a)(1)(i), which states that all organizations must comply with the nondiscrimination clause.
“The racial set-asides are not supported by university policy,” said Julsonnnet. “(Student Senate) is controlling student tuition dollars and they are violating university policy in the process.”
Now, the students are considering several different avenues to pursue. According to Julsonnet, they plan on seeking to abolish the special interest seats by garnering signatures on a petition. If they get five percent of the student body to sign the petition, they can bring a resolution up for a vote before the student body next spring. That resolution would be meant to abolish the special interest seats.
Julsonnet said that he is opposed to the special interest seats not only because of the reverse discrimination that is imposed by the qualifications for running, but also because the seats insult minorities by implying that they can’t win an election without a special seat set aside for them.
“It’s the assumption that’s made that some ethnic groups cannot win without a guaranteed seat. I believe it’s basically implying that the people of these races cannot mount a successful campaign and win an election,” said Julsonnet.
Julsonnet also said that the international seat remains unfilled, even after the election.
“We’re doing it because we were being barred from running for a specific position because of our ethnic makeup,” said Julsonnet.
Gabe Travers, the former Student Senate Membership Chair, helped oversee the candidate’s meeting that Julsonnet and Hemming attended in February. According to Travers, eligibility for running was determined by the registrar. “You have to be eligible for the seat that you are applying for,” said Travers.
An official with the Dean of Students office said that the students were ineligible, but she did not say if their being ineligible constituted a form of discrimination. She said that the Dean of Student’s office “tries to give Student Senate the authority to establish their own policies and procedures.”
Travers added that Julsonnet and Hemming could have changed their race with the registrar in advance of the candidacy application deadline and been eligible to run for the special interest seats.
Julsonnet said that he was never told by anyone that he could change his race with the registrar.
According to Hemming, the next step for the two is to file a request for resolution with the University Judicial Council. Three people will then be selected to decide on the discrimination complaint. One will be selected by the Dean of Students, another by the Office of Institutional Access and Equity, and a third by Julsonnet and Hemming.
Julsonnet said that the two are considering legal avenues as well.
"Do you believe that increased trade between the United States and other countries helps or hurts American workers?" According to USA Today/Gallup 65% say its hurts while only 30% say it helps. Change "workers" to "companies" and 50% say it "hurts" versus 44% that say it "helps."
In a poll released yesterday by Rasmussen Associates 75% of all Americans said they believed that Christ rose from the dead versus only 16% who said he did not. Slightly higher percentages of African Americans and Hispanics believed in the resurrection than Anglos or Asians. The poll also found that 78% of you, regardless of religious affiliation, are now recovering from a large Easter feast.
The UTD Mercury, the student-run newspaper of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), received a record 32 awards for journalistic excellence in San Antonio over the weekend at the 98th annual conference of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA), the oldest and largest press association of its kind in the United States. The UTD Mercury captured honors in 24 of the 28 contest categories, including its first-ever Sweepstakes award as the top points-earning newspaper in its 10-school division.
One week after carrying a front page story on the so-called Gospel of Judas, the Dallas Morning News has an well-crafted editorial in its Sunday newspaper shedding light on the Judas gospel: "This gospel, like other non-canonical gospels, was written by Gnostics, adherents to an early Christian heresy that mixed pagan belief with Christian teachings. The early Church fathers frequently condemned Gnosticism , whose doctrines are bizarre and contradictory to what was emerging as normative Christianity."
The Sunday Scotsman reports that "neo-conservatives in the Bush administration are on a 'collision course' with Tehran." The newspaper claims that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has turned down President Bush's request for military support for a possible air strike on Iran. Blair was a close ally of the President's in the decision of the Bush Administration to go to war in Iraq. Meanwhile, the London Times is reporting that "Iran has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation's nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action."
The worldwide leader of the Anglican Church, Dr. Rowan Williams, used the occasion of his Easter sermon to denounce the "Gospel Of Judas" which paints Judas in a much more favorable light than do the four Gospels of the Apostles contained in the New Testament. The report in the Sunday Telegraph said that the Archbishop poured scorn on this purported new gospel as an attempt to prevent people from "finding out what 'really' happened." The so-called gospel of Judas also was dismissed by the Pope in his Easter address to pilgrims.
In his Easter remarks, the Archbishop of Canterbury also was very harsh in his criticism of books such as The Da Vinci Code, according to the Telegraph: "The Archbishop of Canterbury today attacks society's obsession with books such as The Da Vinci Code which, he says, encourage people to believe that the Christian faith is a series of 'conspiracies and cover ups.'"
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his Cyber Crimes Unit will host a townhall meeting in Plano on April 20th to address the problem of predators seeking children online. The meeting is designed to arm parents with the tools they need to keep their children safer on the Internet
National statistics show that one in five children received unwanted sexual solicitations online each year.
As anyone who regularly reads the DallasBlog knows, we have been very tough on Steve Blow for a number of the columns he has written. To be blunt, we haven't been all that impressed with what he has had to say recently. Let me be the first then to congratulate Steve on an excellent column Easter Sunday about one Patty Huffman who has found her way back from a very hard life. A single mom with three kids at a young age, Patty drifted into topless dancing and, later, into prostitution. Finally, she turned to an organization called New Friends New Life, an organization designed to help women working in sexually oriented businesses. She has changed her life as a result. Steve Blow quotes Patty Huffman as saying: "For so long, I lived in darkness," she said. "But God brought me into the light. Now I want the world to know: Patricia Huffman is living in the light."
Steve Blow concludes his column with these words: "So on this Easter day, she reminds us: Resurrection is still possible."
Now, that is a nice Easter Sunday column. Congratulations to Steve Blow.
I got the call last night that Cloyde Pinson, our Veterans Voice columnist, had died this weekend at the hospital where he underwent surgery on both of his knees. As Cloyde's friend (who called me with the news) pointed out, Cloyde had had a hectic week, getting his son's body moved to the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetary--a veterans cemetary which Cloyde had worked so hard to establish. His son had been a young Marine who had died in Vietnam. Our fellow veteran and friend of Cloyde's, Bill Solemene, will publish a more fitting obituary for Cloyde tomorrow.
I can only say that his family should be proud of a man like Cloyde Pinson who volunteered so much of his time and energy helping his fellow Veterans. We were pleased that Cloyde joined us here at DallasBlog to bring news of veterans events and issues to our readers attention. We will miss you, Cloyde; and may your soul rest in peace.