One of my former students is a full-time math professor in Sacramento. We stay in touch and I usually enjoy talking shop with him. Math teaching, however, was not the topic of our conversation the last time we got together. He handed me a copy of the latest edition of his school's newspaper (American River College's Current) and said, “Here, you take it. I don't want it.” The headline emblazoned across the front page told the story: My friend's college has been taken over by a right-wing Christian coup. Well, sort of:
Christians sweep SA electionsSome of this sounds familiar. Several college campuses, including my own, were treated in recent weeks to “Islamo-fascist Awareness Week.” As noted by The Current, the Christian Civilization Club was an eager participant in the days when it was an officially recognized campus organization. Apparently the resignation of CCC's faculty advisor (and its inability to find a new sponsor) cost the organization its academic standing. Perhaps that was the impetus for the club's behind-the-scenes campaign to take over the Student Association.
Bloc could take 9 of 10 seats if results are ratified
By Matthew Gerring
It's not completely official yet, but early results indicate nine out of the 10 candidates elected in the recent Student Association election are members of the former Christian Civilization Club.
The near-sweep is historical in that representatives generally are elected as individuals, rather than as a bloc.
Members of the former club, known for hosting a booth in the Library Quad denouncing Islam, organized an electoral campaign promoting club members, candidates who were on the CCC mailing list, or candidates who ascribed [sic] to the principles of the Christian Civilization Club.
The group “targeted especially Christians,” according to Yuriy Popko, a member of the former club.The community of Slavic Christians in the Sacramento region has drawn some attention because it contains a core of virulently anti-gay activists. One is awaiting trial related to the death of Satender Singh in a capital city park, while another reportedly fled to Russia. If the CCC went to those churches seeking support, it was appealing to groups suffused with an extremist element.
“We basically consider ourselves Christians, so we go to our base,“ said Popko.
That base includes both Christian students and ethnic communities on campus that closely identify with the Christian community, including Slavic and Romanian students. “The communities are close-knit,” Popko said.
While the former club members distributed literature on campus, they also asked representatives supported by their campaign to go [to] their respective churches to campaign.
When asked about a specific agenda, Popko said, “We [the coalition put together by the CCC] haven't discussed that yet.” Popko, however, did say one of his goals was to pass a bill of rights protecting students from bias on campus. He added, “on campus ... I would call it a liberal bias.”Nontraditional? Actually, Choban sounds very traditional—for perhaps the 15th century.
The other former member club member elected to the Student Association, Dennis Choban, listed his goals on his Student Association application form. They included “removing humanistic bias from certain courses (such as evolution science), and encouraging live discussion of nontraditional views in all classes.”
The Current reporter, however, had a good counterpoint for Popko and Choban's vision of a non-humanistic future for their college:
This goal may not mesh with reality, however.Spring semester is going to provide the CCC bloc with an unpleasant educational experience. While it may be able to use its new Student Association majority to insist that Martinson appoint people from its ranks to the student slots on college committees, a single CCC student representative on the curriculum committee is not going to be enough to write creation science into the anthropology and biology syllabi. The same will be true on any other college committee where the CCC tries to advance its theocratic mission.
“Students do not have the right to determine curriculum,” said Student Association President Lou Martinson. He elaborated that though representatives can propose programs and new classes, they have no binding power.
Furthermore, The Current reports that the CCC bet all its chips on a special election for half-terms on the Student Association governing board. The newly elected student senators will serve for only one semester before the college student body is asked to elect new representatives. If, as seems likely, the CCC overplays its weak hand, the next SA election will not be susceptible to the stealthy come-to-Jesus campaign that swept these narrow sectarians into office. More mellow Christian groups on campus may well come to resent the CCC's insistence on its own highly particular approach to their supposedly common faith. Secular students, of course, should now be fully awake to the CCC's eagerness to stifle their voices.
I'm expecting regular reports from the front as the battle rages during the 2008 spring semester. I just hope that my friend doesn't do anything to get himself listed on the Report Your Liberal Professor page of the Christian Civilization Club's unhinged website. You might want to check it out yourself, and don't miss the videos of the club's disruptive campus activities—of which I am sure they are very proud.
Coming soon to a campus near you? God forbid!