Memorial Union Chapel Feedback Request

Update: The GSB University Affairs subcommittee has updated the legislation to include the recommendation of not removing the religious symbolism but instead allowing students to bring in their own religious symbols to put in the chapel. The first reading and discussion in front of all of GSB is tonight(Oct. 21st) at 7:30 in the campanile room.

On Monday October 12th I was asked to contact GSB to inform them of my opinion on the issue of removing the religious symbols in the Memorial Union chapel and supporting the petition. I have included a portion of my letter below. I sent my letter to the the senators that represent me as well as the executive branch and directors of diversity and public relations. The few that responded were very thankful to hear a students input and many supported the change. The combination of the petition, coverage in the daily, and discussion on the topic caused one senator to introduce legislation that will direct GSB to either fully support or oppose the “renovation” of the Memorial Union Chapel. The legislation can be found at this link. This legislation will be discussed and student input is welcome at the open forum at the next GSB meeting on Wednesday, October 21st at 7pm. I encourage any interested members to attend this meeting and share you voice. If you are unable to, please find the time to contact your senators and the GSB University Affairs Committee leader Luke Rolling (lroling@iastate.edu). I am currently the only student that has contacted anyone in support of this issue and heard from Luke that their subcommittee my be biased but currently does not see a need for the change. I believe in order the removal of the dominant religious symbols to happen it will take more students like you to share your voice.

Dear GSB Officers,

I would like share my opinion with you, as a concerned student, about the chapel in the Memorial Union. I feel that the symbolism contained in the chapel does not reflect the diversity that I have benefited from during my years at Iowa State University. The predominant wooden cross, pews, and stained glass are simply promoting one religious view over another.

I personally do not view the removal of the cross, pews, and stained glass as taking anything away from any of the religions represented, or the believers rights. The area could still remain an area for prayer and reflection. The only message that keeping these symbols conveys is ISU’s support for specific Abrahamic religions over other religious views. The curtain that was installed in the chapel to hide the religious symbols of the dominant religions only covers up the problem, it does not fix it. If there is a desire to maintain the room as a place of worship at a state-funded university, then there need not be symbols of any dominant religion on display in that space.

I am a strong supporter of the petition to renovate the chapel and I believe that the removal of the religious symbols in the chapel and re-purposing of the space is the best way to be inclusive of our diverse student population.

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Luke Harvey

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13 comments on “Memorial Union Chapel Feedback Request

  1. Ryan says:

    We should not have an MU chapel.

    1. It is too difficult to make it non-specific in regards to religion.

    2. It is rarely used and we are facing budget cuts in more important areas (educational) etc.

    3. ISU is a state school, it is against the constitution to have a religious area on campus, therefore it is illegal.

    • Luke says:

      I agree Ryan. You should e-mail GSB your opinion. I do not think it would be very hard to convert the room, it would simply require the removal of the religious symbols in the room and adding new signage. I do not like how the legislation calls it a “renovation” as this could lead to a negative reaction with all of the budgeting news. I could even think of a club that could volunteer with the removal. 😀

      Thanks to anyone who has contacted GSB.

    • Steven says:

      The U.S. Constitution protects “freedom of religion”, not freedom “from” religion. Please cite specifically where in the U.S. Constitution the right to have a religious area on public ground is denied!

  2. Madeline says:

    I just sent an email to the GSB senators who represent my colleges and residence hall. I hope that it will not be too late.

  3. Jen says:

    Wow…it was a chapel to honor the death of soliders in WWI…”covering the symbols does not remove the problem”…I’m sorry but praying is a strong part of the Abrahamic religions and meditation, which is a strong part of the “other religions” you might be referring to can be done anywhere. I doubt many people of “other religions have even been or care about the chapel. I have no sympathy toward your cause.

    • Anastasia says:

      Are you a veteran, Jen? Do you realize that not all veterans are Christian? This chapel isn’t actually doing a very good of honoring all veterans.

      The chapel has the potential to be a special place that honors all veterans and to be a spiritual place for all ISU students — is that really such a bad thing?

  4. Jen says:

    Have you been to a WWI memorial, Anastasia? I have here in the States and in Europe. And every grave either has a cross or Star of David. I didn’t say they were all Christian. There’s a star of David in the chapel. Did you know that? Have you BEEN to the chapel?

    • Anastasia says:

      Jen, you are being quite combative, and that doesn’t lead to constructive dialogue. I hope that you will put aside any preconceived notions that you may have about what I or anyone else thinks about this issue and join us at an upcoming meeting of the new organization that I and several students from variety of faiths are creating. We don’t have a name yet, but it will be an interfaith council that aims to have representatives from each religious student group on campus as well as any interested students who might want to participate in interfaith dialogue about the chapel or any other issue. I’ll post information about this new group very soon, once we have the name finalized and the group registered.

      You might also be interested in attending a special interfaith event called “Brews and Views” that was created by people from a diversity of faiths and no faith who are interested in just having conversations together about complicated issues in a relaxed atmosphere. You can find more info and RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162110901108&index=1.

    • zntneo says:

      i do believe in fact that everyone who is pushing for the MU chapel thin has been in the chapel its self.

  5. asdf says:

    If you don’t believe in the cross just don’t look at it.

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