"I was the very model of a Samfordian and my place in Samford was never questioned"
Dear President Westmoreland:
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in your decision in regards to the Samford Together student organization.
As a member of the Samford University Class of 1995, I have been involved with the institution I love for two-thirds of my life. While at Samford, I attended a London semester, sang in Acapella Choir, and married a Samford woman in a ceremony officiated by a Samford religion professor. I returned to Samford for my first professional position as a librarian and taught in the former School of Music. As a white, baptist, cisgender male, I was the very model of a Samfordian and my place in Samford was never questioned. Indeed, I never had a reason to question my own sexual identity or orientation. Only when I came out of the fog of homogeneity did I realize that many of my Samford undergraduate friends and professional colleagues spent years hiding their own pain and suppressing questions about their identities for fear of being shunned.
I fear that by keeping a respectful, student-owned student organization from moving forward in an explicit process to a ultimate decision, current and future students will not have a safe place in which to explore controversial questions. I fear that the Samford administration will no longer be seen as friendly to student concerns and those student voices will become even more pained. I fear that the brilliant via media approach that has characterized Samford management for as long as I have been associated with her will cease to exist, and spaces for reasoned and passionate discussions will be shuttered.
President Westmoreland, I urge you to reconsider your decision and find a new via media that encourages students to have open and free discussions with your encouragement. Allow the Board of Trustees to make their own decision, so Samford can deal with the friction if need be. I can not imagine the political machinations that are required to oversee a university in the current climate. However, I do know that when students and student concerns are sequestered at the behest of political calculations, it is the students that lose the basic tenet of higher education: the opportunity to think deeply and critically about the world and their own place in it. “As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.”
Dennis T. Clark, Class of 1995