Alumni are upset

There’s two responses in Journal today attacking the recent University decision to change the convocation charge.

Before I post them, it’s worth noting that the Journal’s editorial staff was never on side with a convocation change, and used a full-page of letters to bash the idea, and then refused to print any further debate in their pages (at least they didn’t blame us for school shootings though).
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The UAAA gets email

And here I thought most people were generally satisfied (not happy, but “content”) with the new convocation charge, and then the UAAA gets emails like this one from Jack Kotyk:

Well let me tell you how totally insignificant your efforts really are. So you want to be atheists that is your choice why not let everyone else believe what they chose. How wasted your efforts are trying to get the convocation address changed. So you win big deal, you seem like behaviorally challenged juveniles. Now get on with your petty lives.

Sometimes people give me that warm feeling inside. Oh wait, that’s indigestion…

We changed convocation

Although the change isn’t as far as I (or many of the petitioners) would have hoped, the University did change the convocation charge.

Before it commanded us to use our degrees for “the glory of God and honour of your country.” Now, through committee hell (which does exist), we get:

“for the uplifting of the whole people; to inspire the human spirit; for all who believe, to serve your God; and to pursue more steadfastly whatsoever things are true.”

The media blitz has hit again, and the story has been covered on the local TV networks, the Journal, the Sun, the Calgary Herald, and a ton of papers from Vancouver to Halifax (again). I’m not going to tally them this time, but here’s a rough count.

I will say I am pleased that this is a step forward. I’ll take a minor victory over getting nothing.

I’m most disappointed in the administration however. Once Provost Amrhein decided upon this version of the charge, there was no debate left. At GFC Exec he stepped down as an impartial chair to move this one over more secular ones (that had strong support as well). Then, at GFC he and President Indira tag-teamed to crush debate on the issue (consider this: the total length of the debate in GFC was under 40 minutes, including the introduction of the issue).

I proposed an amendment at GFC to remove the religious portion, and received 30 votes in favour (to 59 against), however before anyone was even allowed to comment on my amendment, Indira called on everyone to ‘vote against the amendment” (in a way that confused nearly everyone). The impartiality died and they pushed through exactly what they wanted.

I shouldn’t have expected much less, considering Carl Amrhein’s “consultation” of the issue consisted of a personal call with the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, and friends from St. Joe’s (Catholic) College.

It was nice to get a mention on Pharyngula though.

Finally, I want to send a big “screw you” to CBC for their latest coverage of the event. Mainly for this line that ended their article:

Bushfield said he no longer plans on boycotting his own convocation.

When did I ever say I was going to boycott convocation?

I maintained a strong “play-it-by-ear” attitude with this, and NEVER said I would boycott anything.

Day of Debates

Today’s a busy day.

First up: Within an hour the Throne Speech will be read (supposedly as short as 10 minutes) and the opposition will get its first chance in 6 weeks to berate Harper to his face.

Next: At 2 PM I walk into the GFC meeting where we will finally decide the secular convocation issue. The proposed charge reads:

I charge you to use them for the uplifting of the whole people; for all who believe, to serve your God; to inspire the human spirit; and to pursue more steadfastly whatsoever things are true.

I may be introducing a motion to amend this charge, and I’ll report fully on the details of this meeting later.

Finally, tonight at 5:30PM in ETLC is the big UAAA vs. Campus Crusade for Christ debate on the existence of God. This is PZ Myers versus Kirk Durston. It should be exciting.

PZ’s talk in Calgary last night attracted 230 people, and we expect at least as many tonight.

And if that event isn’t enough, there will be an informal Pharyngufest at RATT following the debate.

This should be an interesting day.

Secular convocation news, again

It’s been a few weeks since the secular convocation at the UofA issue was in the news, but now we’ve got some more recent hits.

‘Fan’ mail

On Friday, two letters (old fashioned snail-mail) arrived for me and the Universit of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics on campus. One ended up successfully in Student Groups Services, the other made it to ECERF somehow and was luckily retrieved for me before the mail staff there could return to sender.

I haven’t drafted responses for them yet, but will do so soon. Regardless, for your reading pleasure, I am transcribing the letters here (I’m going to remove their names, since although they disagree with me, they are polite and tactful, so I respect that).
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