The petition led by Andy Waldron regarding why the Gateway Building was named after Greg Gianforte has developed a lot of controversy, and understandably so. Stevens has a notable LGBTQ community and naming a building on campus after someone who has donated to multiple political organizations that are anti-LGBTQ is disgraceful – let alone his belief in “pseudo-science”. No, we did not live with the dinosaurs 5000 years ago, no matter how much you wish to believe so. Needless to say, naming the Gateway Complex after Gianforte is not the best public image for the university. Stevens is a university with innovative and progressive ideals. In this age, naming the building after someone with clear, anti-progressive ideals is a disgrace. However, this is not my main point. Instead, I would like to focus on the inability to take a stance on this issue.
Two notable organizations on campus, the Student Government Association and the President, have both been asked to take a stance on the issue and both have failed to do so. The president released his stance in The Stute article last week which stated “neither Farvardin nor the university is accepting or endorsing Gianforte’s views, and the university would never accept a donation with “strings attached” that would violate Stevens’s core values or the law.” In other words, he is taking a neutral stance as he does not want to anger students or trustees in one manner or another. He does not recognize the views of Gianforte, and states that the donation would have not been accepted if the donation was binding. There are apparently “no strings attached”, yet there is an “agreement that the Complex bear the Gianforte name”, as per Tommy Daly’s statement to the entire student body (which I will discuss later). Despite the claim of the donation having “no strings attached”, it is required that the building is named after him. President Farvardin and the university’s actions directly contradict his statement. He proclaims neutrality in order to appease the student body, yet he shows that Gianforte’s views represent the university – or at least very least, accept that they can exist on campus. If he, and the university, were truly against the views, they would not accept the donation – or at least its “terms”. Instead, we have the common situation where people can be swayed for a price.
Moving onto the other organization, the SGA. Now, I am by no-means an SGA Senator, so my direct involvement within this controversy is limited; however, I do read the minutes of the SGA meetings on occasions which probably makes myself more involved than the average student, let alone a few of the SGA senators themselves. The SGA did not take a stance on the Gianforte controversy. Instead, Tommy Daly released a statement on the Gianforte issue that he or the SGA does not support Gianforte’s viewpoints. It’s a standard, canned, answer – no need to tear it apart – it’s bad and does not try to represent the student body in any way. Additionally, how they came to this conclusion is disappointing. Multiple SGA Senators stated that the SGA should not having a public statement against Gianforte because the school needs the money. If they make a statement against Gianforte, he could revoke the donation. In other words, they are letting Gianforte hold them hostage.
Moving back to the statement however; I know for a fact that my SGA Senator, among others, did not send me this statement that Tommy Daly required every senator to send to their student body until a week later, when controversy relevant to him came up (the stipend). This tell me one of two this: one, my senator (or the others) disagreed with the message, or two, they are simply incompetent senators. If it was the first thing, they should’ve at least sent out something they disagreed with the SGA’s stance; however, since they didn’t do that, it’s likely the second: the senators are incompetent. Again, I am not directly involved with the senate, but I did not receive an email with Tommy Daly’s statement nor that senate nominations were open. And to think that they want to get paid for their efforts….