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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.