Students and Professors Protest Choice of Powell

U.C. Will Vote

Poised to join numerous campus groups in protest of Gen. Colin L. Powell's selection as Commencement speaker, the Undergraduate Council will consider a resolution condemning the University and President Neil L. Rudenstine.

The bill calls for a letter to the administration that would brand the University's invitation to the military's prime defender of the ban on homosexuals in the military as an "insensitive" and "inappropriate" choice, according to Hillary K. Anger '93-94', who is co-sponsoring the legislation.

The resolution, passed by a five-to-four vote of the council's Committee on Residential Life Tuesday, also calls for increased student participation on the selection of Commencement speakers.

Council members interviewed last night said they anticipate a "very close" vote when the bill comes before the full council Sunday night.

Passage of the resolution would bolster the opposition effort of a University-wide coalition of 15 bisexual, gay and lesbian organizations, the Leadership Council.

The Leadership Council has spearheaded the opposition, organizing yesterday's Tercentenary Theatre rally against Powell's June 10 appearance. Also, a contingent of openly gay and lesbian faculty issued a letter Monday to the University expressing disappointment and outrage at the choice of Powell.

Last night, the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association--the College's gay organization--issued its first official statement of the Powell matter. The statement condemned the choice of Powell as speaker and reaffirmed the Leadership Council's list of demands, which were unveiled at yesterday's rally.

The Leadership Council called for a Commencement Day address by President Neil L. Rudenstine that reaffirms the University's opposition to the ban on homosexuals in the military, and it urged the creation of a gay studies program and resource center.

Despite the mounting opposition to Powell's invitation, at least one conservative campus organization--the Association Against Learning in the Absence of Morality (AALARM)--still backs the general who led the armed forces through the Persian Gulf War two years ago.

"AALARM fully supports the choice of Colin Powell as Commencement speaker. His stand on homosexuals in the military is fully consistent with the ideals necessary for maintaining a strong and sound national defense," said Robert K. Wasinger '94, a member of AALARM's presidential council.

Undergraduate Council residential committee members who support the bill said they believe the controversy surrounding Powell would ruin the graduation ceremony for many people.

"We are sympathetic to those who would find what he said offensive," said James T. Hickey '93, a council member who supports the resolution. "No one should be forced to listen to someone who espouses messages of divisiveness and exclusion."

Opponents of the bill said that although Powell may be offensive to some listeners, he should be judged on his historical significance.

"I understand that he offends a portion of this community, but he won't be addressing that issue," said Jennifer W. Grove '94, a council member who opposed the bill. "He is head of the armed forces and he has to say what he believes in."

And one council member opposed the letter because she said it was a personal attack on Powell.

"While I do believe the choice should have been more sensitive, I'm not in favor of tearing down Powell as an individual," Cynthia D. Johnson '96 said. "The letter is highly negative and not constructive.