It seems my group’s story is taking off. We’ve been syndicated (in a shortened version) in the Calgary Herald.
Here’s their version (which cuts out the Campus Alpha spokesperson):
Students call for God-free graduation
University of Alberta groups want changes
Keith Gerein, Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, October 24, 2008
A student group at the University of Alberta is fighting to make the school’s convocation ceremony a God-free event.
Specifically, the university’s Atheists and Agnostics society objects to one line in the service, when the chancellor charges graduates to use their degrees for “the glory of God and the honour of your country.”
The group is petitioning the university to either remove the line or change the wording to respect their “God-optional” views.
“What they are doing is basically implying that everyone who graduates from the university should be doing certain things with their degree, and this kind of charge requires a belief in something up to one-third of campus might not have,” said Ian Bushfield, the organization’s president, referring to a Decima survey in May that found about 35 per cent of Canadians under 25 do not believe in a god.
The university is convening a special meeting Monday to hear arguments on the issue from interested campus groups, as well as professors, support staff and the chaplain’s association. A committee is expected to make a recommendation on Nov. 3, with a vote to come three weeks later — too late for the fall convocation, but it could get things rolling in time for spring, Bushfield said.
Andrew Chan, of the group Christians in Action Bible Study, said it’s OK if the line is softened, but he believes the religious theme should remain part of convocation.
“From my standpoint, the line has historical value because the U of A was founded on Christian beliefs,” Chan said. “Taking that out would take out a part of the university’s history.”
But Brett Sawchuk of Cross Impact, another Christian group, argued that Christianity is no longer part of the university’s academic culture.
“As believers, it means something to us Christians and other people who are religious, but taking it out is probably a more accurate portrayal of the university,” said Sawchuk, who was surprised to hear the “God” reference at his convocation last June. “Christians who attend the U of A know they are attending a non-Christian university.”