Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is Ken Starr Hurting Pepperdine University?

According to many of the university's alumni, he is.

With the infamous lawyer's long track record, ranging from being the prosecutor that impeached President Bill Clinton to Solicitor General, and now his position as lead counsel for the supporters of Proposition 8, many who attended Pepperdine are not comfortable having Ken Starr as the current dean of the university. They feel his stance on Proposition 8 is "a disgrace."

So they've decided to take action. They've formed a Faceebook group, Pepperdine Law Alums in Support of Repealing Prop 8 and have addressed a letter to be sent to the dean.

In the letter, they urge the school to underscore the difference between the university's beliefs and that of its figurehead. ". . . you and the school have a responsibility to clarify where the line between your personal beliefs and the school's position differ regarding the issue of equality."

Holding degrees from a university that does not support equal rights threatens not only the school's reputation, but also their reputation and the respect that said degrees may hold.

"We believe that your representation of supporters of Proposition 8 has the potential to irrevocably damage much of the good work those who have gone before you have done in building equity in the Pepperdine University School of Law reputation unless the School of Law clearly and unequivocally states its commitment to history's move toward diversity and equality regardless of your personal position on these issues."

The alumni also acknowledge that in fact LGBT students do exist at the conservative university and empathize what they must be feeling.

"Not only does your public position and active support of Proposition 8 offend and embarrass many alumni, one must imagine that the LGBT students at the School of Law are feeling even more marginalized being subjected to their dean's public support for discrimination against them. Moreover, you are sending a very clear message about Pepperdine's culture to prospective students, not only LGBT students, but also their straight allies, and all other minority groups. Unless the School of Law clearly states its commitment to equality, prospective students will no doubt view the school as having an environment where contrasting opinions are suppressed and anyone who supports diversity and equality will be ostracized."

The school's paper, the Pepperdine University Graphic, has confirmed that Starr has received the letter but doesn't know how to respond. Until the alumni are satisfied with the university, they plan to withhold donations and instead, give to organizations that actually support equal rights.

Not surprisingly, many of the alumni that have signed the letter have only recently graduated from the school, underlining the generation gap on this issue. Salted throughout are very few who graduated more than just a few years ago.

However, one can feel encouraged that the younger generation, despite having been schooled in Ken Starr's thought and philosophy, still believe in equality for all, and in very little time, will soon be the majority.

H/T Gay Rights

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