SMU makes Princeton Review’s ‘homophobic’ list again

DISCRIMINATION? | Joe Hoselton, aka Jenna Skyy, director of graduate admissions at Meadows School, sits in his office at SMU with his Miss Texas FFI crown on his desk. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Despite the Dallas university’s broad range of programs and outreach to the LGBT community, students still rank it worse than even Baylor when it comes to ‘LGBT friendly’

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Southern Methodist University in Dallas is the 12th most LGBT-unfriendly school in the country, according to the annual ranking compiled and issued by the Princeton Review.

But LGBT faculty, staff and alumni and straight allies say that Princeton Review doesn’t look at the whole picture and their school simply doesn’t belong in the same category as other schools whose policies are clearly discriminatory.

And rather than acknowledge strides the school has made in recent years, the list moved SMU to No. 12 this year, up from the 16th
position the Dallas university occupied last year.

The conservative Baptist school Baylor University in Waco, in the No. 11 spot last year, didn’t make the list at all this time around.

Dallas has the distinction of being the only city with two schools on the list — SMU and, at No. 9, the University of Dallas. And Texas is the only state with three schools on the list. In addition to the two in Dallas, Texas A&M comes in at No. 10.

SMU, which has been on the list for several years, is the only school in the group whose non-discrimination policies specifically include protections for the LGBT community.

Karen Click, director of the Women’s Center at SMU that includes LGBT programs, said she was hoping her school was moving off the list. She was disappointed that it moved up instead.

“As the staff member charged with improving the climate, it’s frustrating,” she said.

Click said that Campus Pride also surveys schools about the climate on campus and provides useful input. A new LGBT faculty and staff group was organized at the school this year as a result of recommendations from the group.

In June, a new LGBT alumni organization met for the first time. Openly gay Dean David Chard hosted the first reception for the group in the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas reception lounge in the new Simmons School of Education building.

In contrast, Baylor alumnus Patti Fink said, several years ago when a group of alumni tried to organize an LGBT alumni group, rather than welcome their donations, Baylor sent them a cease and desist order.

Chard said he was probably the only openly gay dean among any of the schools that made the bottom 20.

Fink joked that she didn’t have a list of Baylor’s gay deans handy.

“Even if I looked for a month, I probably wouldn’t find them,” she said.

Chard echoed Click’s frustration. He said that among other things, the school was about to present an anti-bullying conference and has hosted the Gayla Prom on campus for at least a decade.

Fink said there’s never been an LGBT dance on the Baylor campus nor any sanctioned LGBT organizations.

“SMU has been a sponsor of Black Tie Dinner, supported by almost all of the deans on campus, for three years,” Chard said.

And the Simmons School counseling program internship with the longest waiting list partners with Resource Center Dallas.

“We’re doing good work for members of our community,” Chard said.

Fink said she knew of no programs at Baylor that were tied to Waco’s LGBT community. The school has made no donations to fundraising events that support the community. She said her alma mater doesn’t hold an LGBT job fair, which SMU does annually, nor do any Baylor departments partner with any LGBT community groups.

Click said that a Baylor student read an article in Dallas Voice last year about the LGBT-unfriendly rankings. That student contacted her from Waco to help find any resources on the Baylor campus. Click connected her with faculty who are unable to be out on the Waco campus.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m working for two schools,” Click said.

She said that SMU has four LGBT groups and a fifth is forming. And, she said, support for the LGBT community is not new.

“Spectrum [the undergraduate group] has been operating since the 1980s,” she said.

An LGBT group at Perkins School of Theology is active and has the support of that school’s dean. Two other graduate schools with LGBT groups are the law school and business school.

Not only is SMU the only school on the Princeton Review list with a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, it has also offered domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff members’ partners since 2001.

To top it off, Fink said she doesn’t think any of her school has any staff members that perform on film or at a nightclub — or anywhere else for that matter — in drag.

But SMU does.

Joe Hoselton is graduate admissions coordinator at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, but in the LGBT community, he’s better known as Jenna Skyy.

Click said she is pretty sure that no graduate admissions counselor at any of the other schools on the list have ever taught classes on makeup or appeared at a president’s dinner in drag. And Fink confirmed that Baylor President Kenneth Starr is certainly unlikely to host a drag dinner.

Hoselton has done both those things at SMU.

Hoselton said that he thinks the Princeton Review ranking plays into SMU’s stereotypes, something he said he deals with all the time when he’s talking to prospective students.

Hoselton said that while the school has a reputation for its Greek culture, fraternity and sorority membership is capped at a third of undergraduates. When grad students are added, that’s only a sixth of the student body.

Hoselton said he thinks many of the respondents to the survey came from SMU’s business and law schools. Both schools have their own LGBT student organizations but are more conservative than the student population in general.

Hoselton said he thinks students from those schools are more likely to answer lengthy surveys and more likely to answer that there is discrimination, reflecting the stereotype rather than the reality.

Hoselton said that a theology student at Baylor spoke to him before applying to Perkins. That student told Hoselton he came out to a Baylor dean who told him he could continue to study at Baylor but would not graduate and would not find placement help.

The student transferred to Perkins at SMU, where the dean supports him.

Justin Nichols graduated from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He said that a regular financial aid application that included parent’s income indicated that he could afford the tuition. However, because he is gay, his father cut him off, so he filed a “special circumstances” form.

“They made it affordable for me to attend,” he said.

Fink said that she doubts being lesbian would have qualified her for special financial aid consideration at Baylor.

Despite the official policies and variety of programs, the ranking is based solely on how students view their own campus. Students from at least 20 other colleges think their schools are more homophobic than Baylor. And students at SMU think gays and lesbians are not treated very well.

“The message that remains from an undergraduate student body is they feel it’s a homophobic campus,” Chard said.

—  John Wright

SMU named LGBT-unfriendly; Baylor off the list

SMU has been named the 12th most-LGBT-unfriendly campus in the country by the Princeton Review. In the previous two years it ranked 16th and 14th.

Baylor had been on the list for the past several years but does appear this year.

The ranking is determined by students’ answers to survey questions about their impression of how fairly LGBT students are treated. The Princeton Review includes 376 colleges from across the country in its annual survey.

NYU and Stanford are listed as most LGBT-friendly this year. No Texas schools made that list. Eight of the top 20 are in Massachusetts.

Of those making the homophobic campus list, SMU is the only school regularly ranked that has inclusive non-discrimination policies and actively works to not be included.

Both Baylor and SMU made the list of most conservative student bodies. Baylor was listed as having the 10th most religious students.

Baylor was ranked 12th for “College Town Not So Great.” Dallas fared much better with SMU’s No. 8 ranking for “Great College Town.”

In next week’s paper, we’ll talk to Baylor alums and LGBT SMU staff about why the school shouldn’t be on the LGBT-unfriendly list.

—  David Taffet

LOCAL BRIEFS: AIDS Candlelight Memorial set, Butch Voices seeking submissions

AIDS Candlelight Memorial set

The 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held May 15 at 4 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1819 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Started in 1983, the International Memorial is one of the oldest grassroots AIDS awareness campaigns and is held the third Sunday in May. More than 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries host local memorials to remember those lost to HIV as well as to raise awareness.

Three people will share their stories of living with HIV including a 15-year-old young woman. At the end of the service will be a candlelight dedication to remember those lost, celebrate those living with HIV and those not infected.

Cornerstone Baptist Church does work with the homeless, people with addictions and provides assistance to those with HIV.

Free forum on redistricting set

Dr. Ruth Morgan, former provost of Southern Methodist University and author of Governance by Decree, will be the keynote speaker at a free public forum on redistricting, “Why Does It Matter,” Tuesday, May 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, Oak Corner, 2900 Live Oak St. in Dallas.

Other panelists include former League of Women Voters-Dallas president Libbie Terrell Lee and LULAC 4871 President Jesse Garcia.

Although admission is free, advanced reservations are required, and can be made online at NCJWDallas.org or by email at info@ncjdwdallas.org.

The event is sponsored by League of Women Voters chapters in Dallas, Irving, Plano/Collin County and Richardson, the National Council of Jewish Women’s Greater Dallas Section, Women’s Council of Dallas County, Delta Sigma Theta Dallas Alumnae, the Health and Human Services Coalition, LINKS Inc.’s Dallas Chapter, LULAC 4871 and the Dallas Branch of the NAACP.

Butch Voices seeking submissions

Butch Voices, a grassroots organization dedicated to of all womyn, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are “masculine of center” and their allies, is now accepting submissions for workshops, performances, presentations, skill shares, photography/visual art and video presentations for the second national Butch Voices Conference, being held Aug. 18-21 at the Oakland City Center Marriott in Oakland, Calif.

Submission deadline is June 1. Early registration has begun and is $100 for regular attendees, $125 for VIP access and $50 for students. Volunteers can also register online and are needed in all areas of the conference.

For more information, to volunteer or to register go online to ButchVoices.com.

—  John Wright

Spinderella

_Alyson-Calagna-3
THE RIGHT TRACK | Alyson Calagna gladly comes back to Dallas to spin out the beats for this weekend’s Purple Party. She headlines the Sunday night tea dance where the boys are opening for her.

Out DJ Alyson Calagna travels the world, but spinning at Dallas’  Purple Party — which starts Friday — is still one of her favorite gigs

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Alyson Calagna has truly earned her spot as one of the most prominent DJs in today’s dance music scene, whether she’s spinning at her homebase of Miami or touring in Asia. What makes Calagna distinctive from other DJs isn’t that she’s a woman in a male-dominated field, or that she’s an out lesbian. It’s that she’s developed a specific style and grown that into marquee status. She doesn’t want to be one of the boys, but she does have them opening for her.

Before her headlining set at the Purple Party Weekend Tea Dance at Plush this weekend, Calagna took a break from her duties in China to offer some insight to today’s DJ scene. She approaches both her music and the industry with a certain amount of spirituality — and balls.

…………………

Dallas Voice: You said recently it’s a lot easier to be a girl DJ. Has that worked to your advantage in your career? Calagna: I’m sure I said it’s easier nowadays compared to what it was like coming up. It used to be very tough to try and break into a male dominated scene, but now it’s not unusual to see a girl in the booth.

Where do you see DJ culture is now, at the level you’re in? I think it has become a bit pop-driven, meaning it’s the “cool” thing to do and be now. I was looking at a SkyMall in-flight magazine and there was an ad for a tiny mixer attached to a laptop with a header that says “Be A DJ!”  It’s pretty funny when you think about it.

Does that bug you, minimizing the talent it takes to do your job? I still believe that it takes a certain type of DJ to really break through and stay through. A true DJ can stand the test of time, play for different audiences and adapt and evolve in the moment.

How do you tweak your style for Dallas audiences? The great thing about Dallas is there is no tweaking. I have been very fortunate in Texas and I absolutely adore my Texas tribe. They have heard me for years and they know and trust me. It’s truly one of my favorite cities to play in.

So it’s fair to you say you like playing the Purple Party? I feel that Purple is part of my family, they are really good to me and in return I’m good to them. It’s a give-and-take relationship between the board, the boys and the music. I am always so excited to play for them!

You always seem to be playing “for the boys.” Being a lesbian, do the ladies ever try to pull you back in? I have played for girl events before! But I prefer to be with crowds that are more dance-driven. I find the lesbian audiences are more into hip-hop and pop and that really isn’t my thing.

Yeah, the ladies at Sue Ellen’s love them some Jay-Z. So, not to bum you out, but do you ever think about what you’ll be doing when perhaps you’re not DJing anymore? Sure, all the time. I know music and sound will be in my life forever. Music truly is my dharma and I know it will evolve as it should. I do a lot of studio work that is non-dance related. I create music for TV and I would love to do some film.

Any type of film in particular? I like creating really epic, cinematic and dramatic music. I imagine I will eventually head down that road when the club thing doesn’t fulfill me anymore.

Please tell me you don’t listen to dance music when not DJing? I usually don’t listen to dance music unless I’m in work mode or the gym. I tend to listen to everything from indie pop, jazz, chillout, downtempo, mantras —and of course, country. A Southern girl is always a Southern girl.

You travel all over the world. How is it having a relationship while doing this? I believe if you are with someone who is secure enough in the relationship then there is nothing to really be feared. When I’m on the road, I’m working and even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be out playing — it’s not my style. I have enough past karma to deal with from past lives; I need to create good karma in this one.

Oooh girl, dish. [Silence.]

So let’s just end this all right now. Do women make better DJs? I don’t think it’s a better or worse [thing], I think it’s a different story. It’s like mom and dad: Neither is better or worse, they both parent differently — but love remains. I don’t think I play like a woman but I am able to tap into a feminine energy that is nurturing and natural. In the same breath, who I am is very masculine and it shows up in my music.

What makes you a great DJ? My sound is very balanced and it’s something that comes very natural to me. Does that make me a better DJ? That is a matter of opinion. I am just striving to be my best self at all times and take people someplace that they may have not gone before.

Any advice for the club DJs trying to get to where you are? Be persistent. If this is your calling, go for it. Don’t stop until you’ve reached it.

Sweet. OK, now where was that magazine ad you mentioned again?

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 4.48.01 PM

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

GLBT Job Expo held at SMU

JCPenney was among the employers at the GLBT Job Expo at SMU.

The sixth annual GLBT Job Expo was held at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, April 27.

The event is coordinated by Resource Center Dallas and sponsored by the Cox School of Business. The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce partners in the event as well.

RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell said about 200 jobseekers attended and spoke to 25 employers.

Among the new companies at this year’s job fair were JCPenney, The TJX Companies (T.J. Maxx and Marshalls), United Way of Greater Dallas and DFW Airport.

TABC has participated since the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Among the employers, Capital One said it had quite a few positions to fill.

DFW Airport was looking for people to fill a variety of positions throughout their central administration.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has participated in the job fair looking for LGBT employees since the Rainbow Lounge raid.

DART was looking for a vice president for transportation and someone to maintain the Amber Alert signs on highways. The agency’s representative also said she had a number of DART police positions to fill.

McDonnell said surveys showed overwhelming support for the event from both jobseekers and employers. He said that a number of the applicants said that they had experienced discrimination on the job in previous positions and were specifically looking for employers who are open and accepting.

Resource Center Dallas has an ongoing workforce development program and will offer some classes later this year. To be on the contact list for these events, send an email to livingseries@rcdallas.org.

—  David Taffet

Local youth plan Day of Silence observances

SILENT DAY | Members of Youth First Texas gathered at Rosa Parks Plaza in Downtown Dallas for the 2010 Day of Silence. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Youth First Texas to ‘break silence’ with candlelight vigil, dinner, dance

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

National Day of Silence takes on special meaning this year after a number of highly publicized suicides highlighted the bullying faced by LGBT youth in schools. The observance is held on Friday, April 15, this year.

During the day, hundreds of thousands of students nationwide bring awareness to the problem of bullying and harassment in schools by taking a vow of silence. Some wear tape over their mouths.

Participating students hand out cards to explain the reason for their silence. In less sympathetic school environments, some are silent only during lunch or before and after school. The event is organized nationwide by GLSEN.

Youth First Texas will hold a breaking the silence candlelight vigil at the YFT center at 5:30 p.m. Then they will go to Cathedral of Hope for dinner and a dance at the Interfaith Peace Chapel.

Last year, a group from YFT met at Rosa Parks Plaza in Downtown Dallas to break the silence. During the evening commute, they sat in a circle near the West End DART station with mouths taped and handed out information to those who stopped.

At University of Texas at Dallas, National Day of Silence will be observed at the Women’s Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

At Southern Methodist University, students held a silent worship service followed by an open mike talent show sponsored by the LGBT student group Spectrum in the Hughes Trigg student center on Thursday in advance of the official day. Then on Friday they planned to set up a table in the middle of campus to hand out information silently about Day of Silence.

GLSEN advises students that they have a right to participate in Day of Silence between classes and before and after school but not necessarily in class.

According to a document for students prepared by Lambda Legal, the right to free speech includes the right to not speak. But free speech doesn’t necessarily extend to the classroom. If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student doesn’t have the constitutional right to refuse.

According to GLSEN, Day of Silence encourages schools to adopt comprehensive anti-bullying policies. Staff needs to be trained to recognize anti-LGBT harassment and implement these policies.

Students are encouraged to form Gay-Straight Alliances on campus to address bullying at school. GLSEN works with GSAs and schools to create curricula to help students respect and understand differences within the school community.

This is the 15th year of Day of Silence, which started at the University of Virginia. Over the next few years, more schools began to participate and GLSEN took over the event in 2001.
GLSEN estimates that students in 10 percent of schools nationwide participate.

Ryan Schwartz of GLSEN’s national office in New York said that as of early this week, 362 students in Texas including participants from 12 schools in Dallas had already registered.

“There are usually dozens of students that participate for every one that registers,” he said.

Last year, 20,000 students registered with GLSEN, according to Schwartz, but hundreds of thousands participated.

GLSEN conducted a survey of 7,000 LGBT youth. Their research shows that bullying in middle and high schools has reached epidemic proportions. Four out of five LGBT students report being harassed because of their sexual orientation and two-thirds because of their gender identity.

The study also found that three out of five LGBT youth feel unsafe at school and a third have missed school over the last month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

—  John Wright

AIDS Arms announces board officers, new development director

CALL TO ARMS | John Loza, center, heads the new board of AIDS Arms. Also shown, from left, Jesse Garcia, Ken Morris, Loza, David Pass and Dennis Felhman (courtesy AIDS Arms)

Agency focusing on capital campaign to fund new clinic,  continue to provide client services

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with AIDS Arms this week announced the hiring of a new director of development and the election of officers for the agency’s board of directors for 2011.

Attorney and former Dallas City Council member and former Deputy Mayor Pro Tem John Loza was elected as chairman of the AIDS Arms board. Other board officers are David Pass as vice chair and Ken Morris as second vice chair. Dennis Felhman was re-elected as treasurer, and Jesse Garcia was re-elected as secretary.

The board officers are tasked with overseeing the funding and stewardship of the agency during the expansion of medical care services, including a new clinic that is expected to open this summer.

Loza, who works as a criminal defense attorney, holds a degree in government from Harvard University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

Pass has a bachelor’s degree in science from Indiana University, and a master’s degree in health administration master’s degree in information management from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a senior account executive with Aetna.

Fehlman, serving his third year as treasurer, is a senior vice president at Comerica Bank. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Garcia, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, has a bachelor’s degree in communications arts from Our Lady of the Lake University, and a master’s degree in communications arts from St. Mary’s University.

The new development director is Don Macey, a native Dallasite who recently returned to the area after holding senior development positions with the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

“We are very pleased to have Dan Macey join AIDS Arms. His knowledge of health care, the needs of HIV-positive people and a close connection to the Dallas area will be beneficial to our vision and goals for increasing access to quality HIV care and support for our community,” Loza said.

“We have much to accomplish in combating the HIV epidemic on behalf of our clients, and we know Dan will add great value to that effort,” he added.

According to a statement released by AIDS Arms, Macey is tasked with “increasing awareness for the needs of both HIV-positive and high-risk individuals in the community by building the resources required to continue providing medical care, case management, HIV prevention and testing and many other programs.”

Macey’s primary focus will be the Call to Arms Campaign to pay for the new 15,000-square-feet outpatient medical care clinic for people with HIV. He will work with his team, including Sheila Bryant and Karen Campbell, and with the board of directors and

AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles toward that goal.

AIDS Arms provides HIV testing and prevention services, case management, community education and support services to more than 7,000 people a year within a 10-county area in North Texas.

The agency also operates The Peabody Health Center, which is the only private, nonprofit HIV outpatient medical facility in Dallas, and the only community-based AIDS clinical research site in Texas for the National Institutes of Health.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Meet our Spring 2011 intern, Jefferson Johnson

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself: My name is Jefferson W. Johnson and I’m the new Spring 2011 intern for the Dallas Voice.

For starters, I’m a Southern Methodist University junior. My major is journalism with an emphasis in broadcast. However, as I begin to finish the curriculum I find my focus torn among many new journalism avenues, such as photojournalism and multimedia journalism — with my favorite quickly becoming blogging.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and check out my YouTube channel, and find out what it takes to be an intern and a full-time university student while maintaining a grade-point average above 3.0!

It is a great honor to be a part of the Dallas Voice team. I hope to earn the respect and readership of the community and reach new people.

Last, three things about me:

One, I am a military veteran and yes, I had a gay ol’ time.

Two, I actually have a sense of humor — LOL.

And three, the “W” stands for Whitney, as in Whitney Houston.

Keep your eyes peeled. You never know where I’ll turn up.

—  admin

LGBTs join anti-Bush protest at SMU

Action timed to coincide with groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at SMU

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bush protest
PROTESTING BUSH | About 100 people from around the country, including some local LGBT activists, turned out to protest during the groundbreaking for the Bush presidential library on the SMU grounds this week. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

While George Bush and Dick Cheney broke ground on the new presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Tuesday, Nov. 16, about 100 people from around the country gathered a few blocks away to protest.

Although only one rainbow flag was flown during the protest, members of the LGBT community were prominent among the protesters. That one flag flew from the wheelchair of Kay Lucas.

Lucas was director of the Crawford Peace House, which has since closed. That house was near the main intersection in Crawford, down the road from the Bush ranch. During Bush’s presidency, the property was the center of anti-war activity and where Cindy Sheehan staged her protests.

Sheehan became the face of the anti-war movement after her son, Casey, was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. She spoke at the rally at SMU.

Dallas gay activist Aaron Rathbun attended the rally dressed in his graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

“I didn’t have on any rainbow paraphernalia,” said Aaron Rathbun, “I went representing academia.”

He said he went to listen and was impressed by the array of speakers. He mentioned a CIA trainer who left the agency during the Bush administration.
Rathbun said he was impressed by the conviction of someone who would give up his career by saying, “I’m not going to do this anymore.”

He also pointed to another speaker, Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military and another 16 years as a diplomat. She resigned her diplomatic post to protest Bush administration policy.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station along Central Expressway and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium on the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Airline.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. Police from each of the three cities remained in their own jurisdictions.

SMU campus police also were on hand at the rally, which was on campus. Sheriff’s department officers guarded the groundbreaking and former administration officials in riot gear with helmets, shields and batons.

While Rathbun said he was pleased with turnout at the protest, he said it was underreported because camera crews and journalists were not allowed to come and go from the groundbreaking site.

“They were on lockdown,” he said.

Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

Colleen Rowley, who was Time magazine’s 2002 person of the year as one of the year’s whistleblowers and has since run for Congress, tried marching from the protest site toward the groundbreaking.

“The police looked as sad as we did,” Rowley said.

She wore all black with a white expressionless mask and the name of an Iraq War soldier killed in action hanging on a sign around her neck.

Radio host and QueerLiberaction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

He said that the policy institute was being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said that cannot be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We all know that this library is just a way for him to rewrite his own history until it becomes a fait accompli,” Vanderslice said.

He said he was struck by the age of most of the protesters.

“Everyone was middle age or older,” he said. The old anti-war hippies.”

He was curious about the absence of any SMU students at the protest, noting a few who had come from University of North Texas and even one who came to Dallas from Baylor. Only two SMU staff stood across the street to observe despite the large number who had signed a petition to keep the library off campus.

However, many SMU students who were interested in the groundbreaking ceremony were watching the event on a large screen TV truck set up nearby. Campus officials reported that a large number logged onto the Internet to watch.

Vanderslice said that the rally was a weeklong event to activate people.

“I still think there’s efficacy in protesting,” Vanderslice said. “Younger people look at protesting as an antique.”

He said the Bush administration was such an enemy of the LGBT community, more should have attended, but understood that the rally took place during the workday and a school day.

“There must be consequences for misconduct,” he said. “We must demand justice.”

“With the scope of the atrocities done, I’d like to see Bush held accountable to an international tribunal,” Rathbun said.

Many of the protesters held signs that said “Arrest Bush” and “Arrest Cheney First.” A few criticized Obama for continuing Bush’s war policies.

Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin listed a variety of Bush administration atrocities such as water boarding, denying global warming and “bombing Iraq into the Stone Age.” She said she was amazed that after he admitted some of these things in his new book, no investigation was taking place.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the protest.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gays join protest of Bush library groundbreaking

Rick Vanderslice

About 100 people gathered to protest the groundbreaking of the George Bush Library on the Southern Methodist University campus this morning.

Members of the LGBT community were among the organizers. Other protesters came to Dallas from around the country.

Among the protesters was Cindy Sheehan, who became the face of the anti-war movement after the death of her son Casey in Iraq in 2004.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium near Mockingbird Lane and Airline Drive. Many were dressed in black with white masks representing soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. SMU campus police also were on hand.

The groundbreaking was held several blocks away and protesters were not allowed anywhere near the dignitaries, who included  the Bushes and Cheneys. Sheriff’s department officers guarded that ceremony in riot gear with shields and batons. Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

However, pro-Bush counter-protesters were allowed to mingle on the outskirts of the anti-Bush crowd.

Local speakers were mostly from the LGBT community.

Aaron Rathbun dressed in a graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

Radio host and Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

Vanderslice said the policy institute is being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said this can’t be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We can get them,” he said.

“Millions of lives have been ruined because of irresponsible foreign policy,” said Charles Grand, a speaker from the Socialist Workers Party.

Grand said he was happy with the number of people attending since the protest took place during a workday.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the event.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

Other speakers included Time magazine 2002 person of the year Colleen Rowley, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military followed by 16 years as a diplomat and resigned her post to protest Bush administration policy.

State Rep. Lon Burnham from Tarrant County was scheduled to speak but was held up by an airline delay.

The museum and library will open in 2013. The policy center is already operating in offices in Preston Center.

Dressed as death, a number of protesters, including Time person of the year Colleen Rowley, marched to the groundbreaking but were turned back

—  David Taffet