Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Given recent campus events, Emory community members have inquired regarding the University’s policy and practice for distributing campus-wide messages from leadership.

At Emory we try to examine each issue, listen to our community and make the best decision for how to be supportive. Our intent is to ensure that leadership messages focus on issues directly connected to our community or on global events that directly impact our community.

Leadership communication takes many forms: The president and her leadership team are actively engaged in meeting and communicating with students and others on and off campus; emails may be sent from the president and other leaders to the entire or a segment of our community; University statements may be posted to a website; and the president and other leaders attend vigils and other memorial events.

There will be times when a presidential communication to the entire community is appropriate given what we know about a particular circumstance and the nature of the issue. There will be times when other leaders may represent the University because they are closest to the situation and those affected.

Emory, like other universities, is exploring the best method of communicating to our audiences in a meaningful way. The Communications and Public Affairs division is working with University leaders to develop guidelines for campus-wide messages and to create a central communications vehicle that will provide an update on issues so that the community can have one source of accurate, updated information.

We also are looking at employee communication and student communication channels now to understand preferences and usage practices. This work will inform us on how leadership communication takes place in the future.

We will keep the Emory community updated on our progress, and we welcome your input.

Sincerely,

Nancy Seideman

Vice President for Academic Communications

Communications and Public Affairs

Dear Editor,

I am grateful for the attention that The Emory Wheel’s news and opinion sections gave to the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) tragic vote regarding LGBTQ rights within the UMC at its global General Conference. The more incredulous the criticism and publicly expressed the outrage over this backward, exclusionary vote, the better. In fact, as vocal as we may be within the church, it is of great benefit when the larger community and other Christian denominations join us in this public outcry. Such protest further shows the lack of relevance and touch that this unjust, exclusionary policy has within the community we serve.

I am a lifelong, committed and involved member of Glenn Memorial UMC, the church pictured in your articles. I am not clergy. I am writing you of my own accord, so I cannot officially speak on behalf of the church. However, as well as I know my church family, I can say that we are likely more appalled over the vote of the General Conference than the rest of the Emory community.

It feels personal to have our church placed alongside your articles. Your comments and criticisms of the vote were accurate and fair; however, except for the two named pictures of Glenn Memorial UMC above your articles, there were otherwise no comments made about Glenn specifically as a church.

While the Wheel certainly cannot comment on all United Methodist churches in the area, I feel it relevant and important to fill some vital gaps about Glenn UMC for several reasons. We serve Emory students and faculty; we are co-located on campus; we share our institutional spaces; and we partner with the Candler School of Theology, as well as with the larger University. However, most importantly and most relevantly, we as a church share deeply Emory’s convictions and beliefs in equality and inclusion of LGBTQ individuals. This, of course, sharply and completely contrasts the exclusionary ideology reflected in the vote of the UMC global delegates. University President Claire E. Sterk’s strong and clear statement completely rejecting the outcome of this vote was applauded by everyone I know at Glenn Church, illustrating our mutual ideals of acceptance and love. In fact, I implore you to share the welcoming statement of Glenn Church, as it might otherwise be unknown to many within the Emory community.

In addition, it is very important for the Emory community to know that Glenn Church is a member of the Reconciling Ministry Network (RMN). The RMN is an organization committed to activism, policy change and a culture of acceptance and inclusion. For a church such as Glenn to be a part of the RMN means to maintain a clear public statement that said church’s congregation believes in, supports and works toward the equal acceptance and rights of all people, in particular those of the LGBTQ community. Regardless of the adverse result of the UMC General Conference global vote, it is important to know that well over two-thirds of U.S. delegates voted against these exclusionary measures. Here at home, Glenn Church remains unchanged as a church, and we, the congregation of Glenn, remain undeterred in our convictions and beliefs in inclusion and equality. All are welcome here.

Thank you again for your article highlighting what a majority of us know to be an unjust result of the UMC General Conference vote. I hope you might find an opportunity to share some of these important distinctions about us, Emory’s neighboring church, Glenn Memorial UMC.

Many thanks,

Reid Mallard (84Ox, 86C), Congregant

Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church

To editors of The Emory Wheel and our Emory community:

I read with interest the Wheel’s news and editorial coverage of the recent United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference vote to deny ordination and marriage rites to LGBTQ persons. While I’m usually delighted to see a photo of the Glenn Memorial sanctuary, its association with this story brought me pain. We as a congregation stand opposed to the restrictive action taken by our governing body.

Indeed, the Glenn Memorial UMC voted five years ago to join the Reconciling Ministries Network, an alliance of United Methodist churches seeking full inclusion for our LGBTQ siblings. Glenn Memorial also received the “Outstanding Ally of the Year” Award from the Emory Office of LGBT Life. I assure the Emory community that our support of LGBTQ rights has not waned.

The UMC is a global denomination, and the makeup of our General Conference reflects that. The Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, for instance, all of whom in recent years affirmed LGBTQ ordination and marriage, are North American bodies. At our recent General Conference, some 70 percent of the North American delegates voted for the One Church Plan, which allows ordination and marriage rites. In contrast, the over 250 African delegates, who come from a very different cultural setting, voted almost unanimously for the Traditional Plan, which denies such rites. The final vote was 438-384 for the Traditional Plan.

Glenn Memorial and our many allies continue to stand and work with our LGBTQ siblings for full rights and rites. I know change is coming, and I believe it is coming soon. In the meantime, Glenn Memorial UMC will continue to welcome all people, including those who disagree with our congregational stance. We love because God loves and has embraced us all in Jesus Christ. What else would we ever do?

Simply put: Emory, we are your church, and our mission is to serve all people in this amazing community.

In Christ,

The Rev. Mark Westmoreland (82T), Senior Pastor

Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church

Dear Editor,

I am an alum from 1992. In addition to being the founder and executive director of Globe Aware, a multinational charitable organization, I am also the executive chair of International Volunteer Programs Association, an industry nonprofit trying desperately to raise impact, quality and safety standards for overseas abroad programs. Given the sheer volume of organizations that are irresponsibly or naively run, I understand the temptation to paint all volunteer abroad organizations with one brush. However, doing so is irresponsible; it’s essentially the same as equating the Jim Jones or Catholic priest abuse scandals with all church organizations.

Madison Stephens (21C) made that mistake in her Feb. 12 Wheel op-ed. The trick is to know how to differentiate problematic organizations from ones that benefit society.

The volunteer service world is well aware of many organizations that operate in the way she describes: marketing poverty, not making much of a difference and harming communities. But her op-ed suggests that the vast majority of volunteer organizations operate this way. This is quite unfair to those of us making a real difference, and I urge her to take a more balanced approach to the industry. For example, Globe Aware, like Habitat for Humanity, works in conjunction with locals; locals lead the projects and choose how we go about them.

Another area where many would disagree is to think these programs shouldn’t also benefit the volunteer. But they do. A member of a school or church (also a nonprofit) benefits themselves (and others) by volunteering. Some churches do better community work than others, but it is incorrect to make blanket statements. I generally do not respect organizations that run their programs for profit, because this allows them to hide where their money goes, since they are not required to disclose that information. Globe Aware requires local communities to choose the volunteer’s projects and make decisions about how they’re executed, to make sure already vulnerable populations are not further imperiled.

As an example, on Globe Aware’s website, it plainly states our approach to orphanages, an often exploited institution: we only interact with orphans in group settings, and we offer something that cannot be taken away, through a weekly event, like cooking them a protein-based meal. We have seen the conditions that Stephens refers to, most specifically in Cusco while working with a group that kept the children poor. We donated blankets and found they were sold the next day. We learned quickly how careful we have to be to make sure we are making a positive impact. So she is correct that how organizations interact with the community is important. Because of our near-constant presence on each location, we are continuously following up.

Stephens was clearly exposed to some organizations that didn’t do well, so she is trying to label all programs as the same. We stand behind what we do: build schools in Romania, build houses in Guatemala and provide stoves in Peru. Stephens doesn’t understand all the great programs out there. It is through initiatives like ours, Habitat for Humanity and the American Hiking Society that volunteers are working side by side with locals on meaningful projects and making cultural connections in a way it is difficult to do otherwise. By making the statements she does, Stephens is damaging organizations like ours and discouraging volunteers from being a part of a transformative experience for themselves and for recipient communities. The more responsible thing to do is to start giving pointers on what to look for in a responsible organization, and what to watch out for, rather than making blanket statements.

I invite Stephens to speak to some of our community recipients to get their direct perspective. Talk to the family that got a new roof, or the one that got a concrete floor in their home or to the landmine victims in Cambodia receiving wheelchairs about whether or not our work was helpful to all involved.

Sincerely,

Haley Coleman (92C)

Dear Editor,

The appropriate and compassionate care of sexual assault survivors is an important priority for Emory University Student Health Services (EUSHS) and Emory University as a whole. Thank you for shining a light on this topic for our students and community at large. However, I am writing to ensure that accurate information is being disseminated to our community, starting with the fact that EUSHS is not offering “SANE rape kits.”  Although we do have a SANE nurse in training at EUSHS, we do not have any plans at this time to provide SANE nurse care for sexual assault survivors or offer rape kits at EUSHS.

Most importantly, the expanding Office of Health Promotion’s Respect Program is an invaluable resource for sexual assault survivors. Trained advocates are available 24/7 through the Office of Respect Hotline (470-270-5360) where students can access assistance with navigating the appropriate resources. At this time, comprehensive care is primarily offered by The Family Protection Center in Tucker, Ga.  

SANE nurses are incredibly valuable due to their training in sexual assault response, but they are not the only avenue by which we can assist these victims. Our ideal goal would be to have a sexual assault response team in place which could include SANE nurses, advocates and other providers. However, we are very early in our discussions with EUH and other partners across the University to reassess and improve these services. We are very committed to improving access and care in this realm.

I know that the Wheel is very interested in disseminating up-to-date and correct information to the Emory community on this topic. I look forward to continuing to work with the Wheel to provide updates when available on enhancements or additions to our sexual assault programs.

Sincerely,
Sharon Rabinovitz, MD, Interim Assistant Vice President and Executive Director, Student Health Services

Contrary to Grant Osborn’s (19C) recent column, the NFL is not silencing conservative speech. The NFL forbids athletes from altering their uniforms in remembrance of 9/11 and the 2016 mass shooting of Dallas police because it has strict uniform policies, not because it has a political agenda.

I was horrified that this article categorized mourning 9/11 and the 2016 Dallas shooting as conservative positions rather than American ones. Liberal or conservative, we all grieve for lives lost — acts of remembrance are patriotic, not partisan. The NFL allowed Colin Kaepernick to kneel but opposed other expressions of mourning which violated its regulations. NFL uniforms cannot be altered to display personal causes, a reasonable requirement since uniforms constitute part of the NFL brand that athletes are paid to represent. The NFL only suggests, rather than mandates, that athletes stand during the anthem; if Kaepernick had attempted to alter his uniform, he too would have faced penalties.  

Osborn’s other example of NFL censorship of “conservative speech” was the threat to exclude Atlanta from Super Bowl host consideration should Georgia have passed the euphemistically-termed “religious liberty” bill. In effect, that law would have legalized anti-LGBT discrimination. Unless there are no gay or allied NFL employees or fans, the NFL has a vested interest in preventing that legislation’s passage. If the bill had succeeded, the NFL should have avoided choosing Atlanta to host the Super Bowl as the inevitable boycott by fans and advertisers would have significantly reduced revenues.   

The NFL is not favoring liberal thought over conservative thought. Instead, it is merely upholding its rules and prioritizing its brand. The NFL allowed Kaepernick’s protest because it was within the rules. Should players take a knee to commemorate 9/11 or the 2016 Dallas shootings, that too would be a permissible expression of the athletes’ views. Accusation of censorship should not be made idly, so consider all the facts before declaring the NFL discriminatory.

Charlotte Selton is a College sophomore from Sacramento, Calif.

 

I thank Charlotte Selton (20C) for writing about the issues related to the lack of diversity in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) fields. She identified several important issues: stereotype threat, unconscious bias and challenging peer interactions. These are real, serious and pervasive issues in STEM all across the country and, clearly, here at Emory too. The Department of Physics takes these concerns seriously and has been working to address them.

First, we do our best to mentor female and minority students, and we are excited about the positive outcomes. This year our department has seven students pursuing honors theses — all seven are women. Moreover, in recent years our female physics majors have gone to physics Ph.D. programs at top schools, including Harvard University (Mass.), New York University, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University (N.J.).

Second, we try to address stereotypes and biases. For example, we recently added a statement to syllabi of most physics courses that it is “unacceptable to judge your fellow students by gender, race or anything else.”

Third, we diligently work on further improving ourselves: Many Emory physics (and other STEM) faculty are members of the Science Education Research Journal Club, which focuses, in part, on making classrooms more inclusive. The Journal Club includes not just faculty but also postdoctoral students and graduate students; we hope that these future faculty will be even better prepared to positively impact their students.

We have done a lot, but we understand that a vast amount of work remains to be done. Our faculty are not complacent about these successes; we continually evaluate how we teach and our role in creating classrooms — and a campus — where all students thrive. I invite all interested members of Emory’s community to join us as we work to find concrete solutions to the problems currently faced by women and minorities in physics and STEM as a whole.

Eric Weeks is a Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and Emory Physics Department Chair.

 

The arguments against sanctuary status for Emory University are based on the premise that Emory is a victim, rather than an institution with considerable power and agency. Rather than letting state and federal governments boss it around, as the third largest employer in Atlanta and one of the largest in the state of Georgia, Emory should start calling some of the shots. Yes, there would be a price to pay: this would require leadership from students, faculty, administrators and the new president. Sanctuary status, rather than a hollow symbol as the editorial board of The Emory Wheel would describe it, is about Emory actually working toward the excellence it so widely advertises. Rather than Emory’s obsession with perpetual ascendancy in the national rankings, the University might think about the notion of where justice comes into play in achieving a high quality education.

Craig Womack is an Associate Professor from the English Department.

To anybody that has read Daniel Park’s article, “DJ Rehab is Generic, Repetitive on McDonough,” I’m sure you can appreciate that the one thing that was repetitive was the amount of times a student offering to open the concert for free was maliciously stacked up to a professional, international DJ. I’m not here to make a fuss of this; I’m just very disappointed at the lack of professionalism that went into this review. First off, I doubt that any research went into reviewing the Homecoming Concert, because I’m sure if the author knew I was an Emory College junior, I would hope he wouldn’t have gone at my throat as much as he did. It is one thing to give a negative critique about even a student performance, but I felt personally attacked by a fellow student in a publication that is supposed to promote the University.

Second, I am very disappointed about the false comments regarding my performance. Unless he was reviewing the songs played intermittently by the production crew’s iPod, the author said I played only top-50 hits, and criticized me for playing a song that I actually didn’t. How credible can he be after inserting false comments in a review? It’s a shame that this was yet another story that was unappreciative of all the work SPC does to make campus a better place to be, and moving forward I’m sure everybody would like to see more hype in the school paper rather than reviews that make these events feel like the lesser option for the night. I would once again like to publicly thank SPC for featuring me at this event, and hope to continue to perform at others. For anybody who wants to hear a more widespread opinion of the concert, just ask any student that was in attendance that night.

 

Much love, Cheddy.

DJ Cheddy is a College senior from Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania