Following a trail of controversy over the University English
course “How to be Gay,” the Michigan Student Assembly passed a
resolution last night supporting the University’s “academic
freedom” in deciding its curriculum.
The resolution, which passed without dissent, runs afoul of
remarks made by state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk (R-Kalamazoo), who has
said the course imposes ideology on students.
In addition to supporting the academic validity of 60 courses
Hoogendyk has called into question – including the English 317
section – the resolution also opposed the lawmaker’s oversight
bill, which would withhold public funding from state universities
that failed to comply with a curriculum review system.
“We shouldn’t be controlled on what we’re learning about and
what is or what isn’t sufficient knowledge,” MSA President Angela
Galardi said. “If the enrollment is constant, then someone is
obviously getting something out of this course.”
Although advocates of the resolution had originally slated it
for a later vote, they said an upcoming conference of the
Association of Michigan Universities – which assembly
representatives will attend – convinced them to move the vote
“I sent (the resolution) out early because it’s an issue that
students need to know about and I want to give people enough time
to ask questions,” said Rules and Elections Committee Chair Pierce
Beckham, who sponsored the bill. “I moved it because I heard state
politicians would be at the AMU conference. … MSA students needed
to take a stand before then.”
Section 002 of English 317, titled “How to be Gay: Male
Homosexuality and Initiation,” discusses “the general topic of the
role that initiation plays in the formation of gay male identity,”
according to the LSA website. The class also “examine(s) a number
of cultural artifacts and activities that seem to play a prominent
role in learning how to be gay,” but does not offer students an
“introduction to gay male culture,” the website states.
On passing the resolution, MSA agreed to send letters to state
politicians “expressing its stance on this issue.”
Among other unopposed resolutions, funding for the 2004
Association of Big Ten Schools conference also gained assembly
After months of planning, MSA will hold a vigil to honor the
victims of September 11th. The ceremony will take place on the Diag
tomorrow at 8 p.m.