Friday, October 28, 2011

Open Letter to President Barker on A Better Clemson

Dear President Barker,

It has been over a week since the off-campus altercation between four individuals, one of whom was severely beaten. Alcohol was involved, but that should not overshadow the fact that homophobia and misogyny also fueled the fight.

A year ago I wrote to you about the dangers of bullying that occur not just in high school but among college students as well. This bullying often targets members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community both within the student body and the faculty and staff, and even people assumed to be gay because of common misguided stereotypes. I asked that you write to the student body and employees about the importance of accepting the diversity around us. We should see everyone as a valuable individual with much to offer Clemson University and society.

I write to you again, now, in light of the “LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index” in which Clemson University recently participated. It was possible to score 5 out of 5 stars in relation to eight LGBT-Friendly factors such as LGBT Policy Inclusion, Support & Institutional Commitment, Academic Life, Student Life, Housing, Campus Safety, Counseling & Health, and Recruitment and Retention Efforts.

Our top two scoring categories were Counseling & Health, in which we scored 90%, and Support & Institutional Commitment, in which we scored 56%. The rest of the categories were well below 50%, and the score for the entire index for Clemson University was a 2 out of 5 stars.

Almost all of the Top 20 public schools in the country have taken this test and have scored well over 3 stars. Our neighbor to the south, University of South Carolina, is the only institution in the state to have an LGBTQ Resource Center.

In this email I am requesting, as a gay staff member of Clemson University and a graduate, that you give me permission to begin forming a Presidential Commission on the status of LGBTQ Students and Faculty/Staff in order to address these issues and more on campus. I still see Clemson University as a welcoming institution for all people, despite their differences of color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, but unfortunately I constantly hear from new and existing LGBTQ students that they do not feel safe. They do not feel welcome by the body of Clemson University. They do not feel as if our leading institution has their interests in mind to any degree that was offered to another marginalized group not too long ago: our fellow African-American colleagues and students.

Now is the time that we show our students and those who work with us that they are here to experience Clemson University as it should be, and we are dependent on their future.

During the town hall, coming up on November 1st, there will be several members of the LGBTQ community and their allies posing questions to you about why Clemson University has failed to reach out in its recruitment and retention of not only students but faculty and staff as well. You will be asked why partnered or married gay faculty and staff, who work hard to make Clemson one of the top universities in the country, are not given the same health benefits as their straight counterparts. They will ask when Clemson University will take a stand in ending benefits discrimination in the state of South Carolina.

There will also be questions about gender-neutral bathrooms, living learning communities within housing to create a safe environment for incoming freshmen and others, LGBTQ-specific courses. the lack of a resource center. the information in acceptance packages for incoming students about services for LGBTQ people, and many other topics.

I write to you in the hopes that together we can show our current and future members of the Clemson Family that we can provide them with an equal, healthy, and safe learning environment of the 21st century: that we truly can be A Better Clemson.

Joshua Morgan
Clemson University Libraries
Class of 2010

Friday, September 23, 2011

Remove tax exemption from churches and allow them to apply like a non-profit organization


"Remove tax exemption from churches and allow them to apply like a non-profit organization
Currently, churches usually receive tax exemptions based of off their specific religion and sect. If a specific sect is not already recognized, they are able to apply to become a recognized religion. This process gives the government the authority to determine which religions should and should not be recognized as 'true' religions in our country, a clear violation of the first amendment."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Civil Disobedience = Domestic Terrorism

There’s a fundamental difference between two divergent interpretations of the Constitution’s intent and purpose:

The original idea that the Constitution informs the State of citizens’ natural rights and restricts it [the State] thusly; and
The modern and pervasive idea that the Constitution informs the citizens as to what rights they have and what they are allowed to do within the laws.
At first glance these two statements may seem just as similar as the Golden Rule and its inverse: don’t do unto others as you would not have them do unto you. We must look beyond the elementary meaning invoked by merely skimming over both and nodding our heads as to say that they mean one in the same.

The polar syntax machinations in both sets of statements become only clearer when we appoint examples to all four sentences. Though it might be argued that in both instances both sentences can be applied together, I think to do so would only confuse people even more. It would be to say that the State and the citizens are a symbiotic relationship rather than the State ruling the people or the people ruling the State. We have been led to believe that we are a democratic society and that the State is for and by the people, but this holds no water when you take two seconds to imagine disposing of the current elected elite and consider your chance of success.

The rule of law and respect for the State has been a slow and steady propaganda campaign wrought by countless committees, congresses, and presidents. Those charged with maintaining law and order at the point of a gun do so by first considering the law and second, the rule. The citizen does not fit into the equation. The mass are too well disciplined to obey at the bark of an order by an authority figure.

Armed service members continue to be members while fighting overseas burying their moral confusions about the entire bloody situation. Policemen too often act first and question later. This has been defended by staunch statists who put the policeman’s safety first over the citizen’s. And we have been told that this is morally just, that the policeman puts his/her life on the line to protect us. They must act in accordance with their own self-preservation first and foremost. But to what extent? More and more, thanks to the liberating power of the internet, we read stories and reports of policemen going above and beyond just handcuffing someone. They are killing people without restraint in the act of “self-defense”; guilty before the idea “innocent” is a thought that can pass through a policeman’s mind.

Through this method of discipline and demonizing those who break a law but create no victim, the government has been able to secure a passive people. Any civil disobedience has just become another phrase for domestic terrorism. In Europe they are rioting over what we might consider to be quite silly and some times over things that we can solve in court or through referendum. We have become a country that is a combination of the prophecies of Orwell and Huxley; something I’m sure both of them would have dreaded more than their own single fictitious creations.

The Constitution is not a restriction on the people. The Constitution is a restriction on the State. It’s a restriction the State has ignored and trumped and abused with law after law.

You SHOULD not respect every service member or every police officer or every legislature you come across. You DON’T know each and every one of their morals and reasons for taking on the job that they did. You don’t have to physically fight back but being verbally strong towards “authority” figures is a step in the right direction. If they’re being ugly you need to voice it out and tell them to back the fuck up. Carry a copy of the Constitution and shove it in their face to remind them that that little book is the supreme law of the land and their guns are not.