The University Record, August 14, 2000


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U should help United Way amend nondiscrimination policies or end affiliation

On Tuesday, July 4, 2000, the Ann Arbor News ran an article titled “Ruling on Gays in Boy Scouts Draws Mixed Reaction” in which Washtenaw United Way President James R. Cieslar was quoted as follows:

“We ask our member agencies to submit a statement of nondiscrimination, but it currently doesn’t contain a reference to sexual preference.”

Today (Friday, July 14, 2000), the Ann Arbor News reported that the Washtenaw United Way has set a campaign goal of $8.4 million for their 2000 campaign.

Last year, the University of Michigan, through its annual campaign targeting all University faculty and staff, raised a total of $1,026,236 for the United Way.

The University’s Non-Discrimination Policy states:

“The University, in its employment and human resource policies and practices, will not discriminate against any individual because of race, sex, color, religion, creed, notional origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, special disabled veteran and Vietnam-era veteran status, and height or weight . . . ”

How can the University, which has stood up against Nike’s inhumane labor practices overseas and has taken the first steps toward selling off its holdings in the tobacco industry, continue to serve as a financial conduit for a local organization whose non-discrimination requirements do not equal its own? Surely, if the Washtenaw United Way were to exclude race, sex, color or religion from its non-discrimination member statements, the University would not continue to provide the level of support for their fund-raising campaigns it currently does.

While the United Way may be able to claim that it provides support to organizations that support gays and lesbians, it also provides support to organizations that openly discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation. It is time for the University to show the same exemplary leadership in Washtenaw County that it has shown in both the Nike and tobacco situations. I urge you to partner with the Washtenaw United Way to amend their non-discrimination requirements to reflect the standard set by the University. If this is not possible, I urge you to discontinue University involvement in United Way fund raising until such time that the Washtenaw United Way makes these changes on their own.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Tom Mull, Facilities Coordinator, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies