There will be over 9,000 new undergraduate students starting orientation at the University next week, and they will notice a couple things.
First, like most universities, we still have a school of theology, and second, that we’re generally a open and secular school. Unfortunately, the second half of that is a lie.
When some of those undergrads finish their degree they will undergo the convocation ceremony. This ceremony contains an admission from the chancellor of the university which requires new graduates to use their degrees “for the glory of God.”
The University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics believes that this admission unfairly assumes belief in the supernatural, and forces that belief upon all graduates, many of whom resent being told what to do with their degrees. Furthermore, this “prayer” comes from the Christian origins of Oxford, and the link between it and the Judeo-Christian deity is undeniable.
There are members of our group who have boycotted their convocation once they learned this charge was in the proceedings (which isn’t general knowledge before-hand).
The UAAA brought this issue before the Office of the President during the summer, in hopes of a quick and quiet change in the wording. However, after some delay, we were informed that the “president did not wish to revisit the issue” as it had been recently discussed by the committee on convocation.
So now we issue the cry.
During September we will be circulating petitions to accumulate signatures of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and concerned members of the public (whose tax dollars support this institution) who believe that the most inclusive convocation that the University of Alberta can provide is a secular one.
This is not an issue of being anti-religious, this is an issue of being recognized and included in an institution I want to call my own. The president’s (in)action is that of intolerance, arrogance, and continued disconcern for the student body.
For more information:
- Download the petition
- Join the Facebook Group
- Read the original UAAA letter
- Read the response from the office of the president
- Write your own letter, address to firstname.lastname@example.org (be sure to cc email@example.com so we can keep track of submitted letters – many voices are stronger than one)
[tags]convocation, secularism, university of alberta, god, discrimination, intolerance, Christian, university, petition[/tags]