Editorial: Mr. President, we need your leadership

By Andrew Sheeler
Sun Star Editor-in-Chief

New jobs can be a lot to take in, especially jobs with a lot of responsibility.  Hey, I’m the new editor for the Sun Star.  I can appreciate that.  There’re tough decisions to be made and all sorts of things to learn.  It takes time and patience.  So I applaud the president’s decision to listen to the students, the staff, and the faculty of the University of Alaska.  I believe him when he says that by this spring he will feel confident enough to start taking action.  Still, Mr. President, how about a warm-up?

Your predecessor, albeit reluctantly, supported amending the University of Alaska non-discrimination policy to include gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people (GLBT).  The chancellors of all three universities and a majority of the student body support that amendment.  And here’s the kicker: the University of Alaska is an outlier among the U.S. state public schools for not having a non-discrimination policy.  The policy is opposed by…well, no one really.  In fact, I am a little confused as to how it hasn’t been enacted already.  The Board of Regents are dragging their feet in making a change that will protect a substantial portion of the University of Alaska community from being harassed because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.

What the board needs is leadership.  Leadership that comes from a man who, say, commanded the Pacific Air Forces.  A man who flew flight missions in Vietnam, who served as commandant of the Air Force Academy, and who earned four, count them, four stars as a general. That would be you, sir.  We need your leadership on this.  Since 1986, people have been working to make the University of Alaska a more inclusive place.  Hamilton couldn’t do it.  His predecessors couldn’t do it. Go to the regents and urge them to amend the policy to protect GLBT students, staff, and faculty.  Get it done.

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