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SAGA faces limited backlash

Megan O'Neil | Monday, April 11, 2005

Speculation that the Saint Mary’s administration and possibly President Carol Mooney herself would intervene in the March 21 Board of Governance (BOG) approval of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) has dwindled in the weeks following the vote. In fact, there has been little of the negative backlash from the College community many student government officers said they feared during debates over the group. The decision whether or not to grant SAGA official club status was delayed a week on March 14 after former student body president Sarah Catherine White said board members needed time to research the need and role of such a group at Saint Mary’s. At two different BOG meetings officers discussed whether a straight-gay alliance fit within the Mission of the College and how alumnae would react to a vote approving the group’s application. Speaking on behalf of vice president of Student Affairs Linda Timm, director of Marketing Communications Nick Farmer praised BOG for its “excellent work processing information” and said its decision was “appropriate.” “SAGA’s recognition as a student organization in no way infers approval of homosexual behavior or any lifestyle that is contrary to Church teaching on human sexuality,” Farmer said. Farmer said the goals of SAGA are “important” and that the dignity of each individual must be recognized and respected, no matter his or her sexuality. According to Farmer, SAGA could provide students the opportunity to find the support they need through discussion and sharing. “It is important to note that there is a difference between support for each individual regardless of her sexual orientation and advocacy of a lifestyle that involves sex outside the bonds of consecrated marriage,” Farmer said. SAGA will be subject to the same rules as all other clubs on campus, Farmer said. That includes upholding the Mission of Saint Mary’s and filing the proper paperwork with Student Activities annually.Farmer said the College received one phone call from a parent of a current student expressing concern about BOG’s decision. The parent was directed to a 1997 document published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Always Our Children,” which clarifies how Catholics must behave toward homosexuals. Reaction among the student body has been equally subdued. There have been no protests or rallies against the approval of SAGA and it has generated little conversation.”It doesn’t really bother me,” freshman Emily Herman said. “I am really indifferent about it.”Herman said it was an impossible situation since BOG could not please all students no matter which way it ruled.Senior Jillian Rolewicz said she supported BOG’s approval of SAGA.”I don’t see why [SAGA] shouldn’t be [approved],” Rolewicz said. “I think it is a great idea for those who want to be involved.”