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The Blue & Gray Press | May 21, 2018

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Letter to the Editor: New legislation undermines school's dedication to diversity

Dear Editor:

As President of the University of Mary Washington Student Government Association and the Student Representative to the Board of Visitors, it is my honor to represent every student at the university. I represent the views of students from all walks of life and who have different ethnicities, genders, national origins, opinions, political affiliations, races, religions and sexual orientations. While I do my best to represent everyone, I also work to create a campus environment where every single student is accepted for who they are.

This past week, the Virginia Legislature passed SB1074, a bill that will let college religious and political clubs bar members who don’t share their views or the mission of the organization. SB1074 is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

As you can imagine, this bill will create a variety of different challenges and has the potential of creating exclusion and discrimination in our learning community. Currently, SB1074 directly contradicts our university’s Principles on Diversity and Inclusion and our University’s Statement of Non-Discrimination.

Our statement of Diversity and Inclusion reminds us that our community is dedicated to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment of mutual respect for students, faculty, staff and community. The University made it clear that we will not recognize or condone any organization that discriminates in selecting members. We do not discriminate in any form because it’s our vision for a better community and our way of life. It is for these reasons that I have written a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell stating my personal sincere disapproval of this bill.

One of the prime reasons why I came to the University of Mary Washington was our proud tradition of creating an open and diverse community where students are given a comfortable place to prepare themselves for a 21st-century global society. On campus, we value diversity in all forms and strive to create a community that values everybody, not just the few. It is my belief that everyone should feel safe and welcome at UMW.

Students at the UMW value the right of every individual to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. The signing of SB1074 would ensure that this basic principle would no longer be guaranteed at our university or any public university within the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is for these reasons that I have asked the governor to veto this legislation, and I ask that you stand with me in continuing to create a campus that values diversity and inclusion.

Jeremy S. Thompson is president of the UMW Student Government Association.

Comments

  1. Dumb

    As President of the student body you should NOT speak on behalf of every student regarding a political issue. Like it or not–you don’t speak for me on this issue or piece of legislation. If this is your PERSONAL view as a student at UMW you should have omitted your position within the Student Government Association from your letter.

  2. becca

    I didn’t vote for him, so I can disagree with him. I don’t like being spoken for without being asked my opinion. The SGA President should be open to hearing everyone’s opinions before making claims as if he is all-knowing and can decide what’s best for me and anyone else. As a religious minority at this school, I understand what the legislation is appealing to beyond simply promoting exclusion. For someone who “represents the views of students from all walks of life and who have different ethnicities, genders, national origins, opinions, political affiliations, races, religions and sexual orientations,” this is in poor taste. Dumb is spot on, and God is a condescending jerk.

  3. Really Guys?

    “…It is for these reasons that I have written a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell stating my personal sincere disapproval of this bill…”

    I mean, I think that there is good reason for the Bill to pass (religious reasons) but it looks to me that he is saying her wrote a personal letter to the Governor, which I do not mind. I think Thompson was using the first paragraph for cred maybe so he can speak with more authority because he knows the student body.

    Still no one asked me how I felt. But it looks like a personal letter.

  4. Dumb

    Bullshit. He’s a student in a club who takes himself too seriously.

  5. Will Bailey

    I met him a couple of times and he’s really nice and does everything he can to represent students. I agree with”Really Guys” It looks like a personal opinion article and not something to blow out of proportion. Way to go man for standing up for what you believe in. I wonder if “Dumb” would ever do the SGA Presidents job. Because he does a lot for the school. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him next time. And “God (odd name)” is right… he represents all students. The university president listens to him, as does the Board of Directors. So he’s got a pretty tough job… The SGA is over all aspects of campus life and it impacts you. I didn’t know that until this year.

  6. Will Bailey

    he’s also your student body president and like any politics, you’re not always gonna agree with him. just sayin. I’m a republican.

  7. Dumb

    In the words of our friend “God”

    THEMOREYOUKNOWWWWW

  8. Jared

    “our proud tradition of creating an open and diverse community where students are given a comfortable place to prepare themselves for a 21st-century global society.” Really? This is a tradition? At a school dominated by white women since fruition? Hm. Fact check? Anyone?

  9. Dumb

    Thank you! It just sounds like a bunch of rhetorical bullshit.

  10. Will Bailey

    Some of us forget that diversity is not just about skin color.

  11. Will Bailey

    Looking at you Jared.