The University Record, March 4, 2002

United Way board votes to change Boy Scout funding status

By Laurel Thomas Gnagey

After nearly two years of controversy, the Washtenaw United Way board of directors voted last Wednesday to remove the Boy Scouts from its list of agencies to receive general funding support. The action means the Great Sauk Trail Council no longer will be a part of the non-designated annual fund campaign, but those who wish to support the local Boy Scouts will be able earmark a gift to the organization.

Over the past several months, U-M campus groups, including Social Work, LS&A and the Michigan Student Assembly, passed resolutions in one way or another expressing concern about the University’s participation with the United Way (UW), saying it was inconsistent with U-M’s non-discrimination policies. In addition, a number of individuals from the community offered regular public comment at Board of Regents meetings, urging the University to withdraw UW support because of Boy Scout membership policies, which exclude homosexuals.

“The Washtenaw United Way board members have given careful thought to this issue and I appreciate and support their action,” says Interim President B. Joseph White. “The decision to include the Boy Scouts among the organizations that will only receive designated funds from donors to the Washtenaw United Way is consistent with the University of Michigan’s non-discrimination policies and our desire to build an environment that welcomes every member of our community. The board listened to the many expressions of concern that came from the community, including those from U-M faculty, staff and students, and I thank them for their consideration.”

A statement issued by the Washtenaw United Way says the controversy over the Boy Scouts of America membership standards has hampered its ability to conduct fund-raising campaigns in some of the major workplaces in the county, limiting the organization’s ability to raise funds for needed community services. The local fund-raising organization lost support from the city of Ann Arbor last year.