Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Working in Near-Perfect Harmony

There are those out there who claim that I enjoy nothing more then to point out the substantial differences between Democrats and Republicans. And though I do take certain pleasure in doing exactly that, I also find it to be quite beneficial, not only for myself but for visitors to the site as well, to point out instances where the two vastly different ideological parties can cooperate with each other and work together for a certain cause, such as the call for the resignation of Pamela Peters from the Office of Student Development (OSD). It is a rare site indeed when I point out an article in The Marquette Tribune I actually agree with, but believe me when I say I will try and not make it a habit.

In a joint effort, members of Marquette's College Democrats and College Republicans are petitioning to have Pamela Peters, coordinator for student organizations and leadership in the Office of Student Development, fired.

Ryan Alexander, a College of Arts & Sciences junior and a member of College Democrats, started the petition.

"We feel that based on our dealings with OSD that she's not qualified to deal with student organizations in general, especially political organizations," Alexander said. "She just doesn't seem to have special knowledge needed to work with political organizations."

Peters was contacted but declined comment.

Brandon Henak, chair of College Republicans and a College of Business Administration junior, acknowledged the move to request the university fire Peters is controversial, but he supports change in OSD.

"We both support serious changes within the Office of Student Development and the way it works," Henak said.

The official College Democrat and College Republican groups do not endorse the petition, Alexander said.

The petition stems from past problems that College Democrats and College Republicans have had seeking OSD approval.

The College Republicans' main problem with OSD was a result of the January "Adopt a Sniper" controversy, where a miscommunication resulted in OSD officials removing the fundraising display. Henak said the group also had a problem when OSD declined their request to have an animal rights barbeque, to oppose animal rights extremist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, six hours before the event was scheduled.

The controversy surrounding "Adopt a Sniper" stemmed from the table's display of bracelets featuring the words "One shot, one kill, no remorse, I decide." The story became national news, and the university came under fire for College Republicans' claim of restricting free speech.

"Our main problems stemmed from Adopt a Sniper," Henak said. "There were also problems getting approval for signs that Peters said weren't worded correctly during the election season."

Alexander said Marquette could have avoided the negative publicity received from the Adopt a Sniper controversy if not for Peters.

"The blame for all the negative publicity the university received from Adopt a Sniper squarely falls on Pam Peters," Alexander said. "She should have asked what (the College Republicans) were selling and where the money was going to. She didn't ask any of that. If she had, she probably would have rejected the approval and Marquette wouldn't have had the negative publicity."

Mark McCarthy, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of Student Development, said OSD was made aware of the petition.

"I invited Ryan Alexander to meet with me because I was interested in hearing more of his concerns, particularly in light of policies and procedures," McCarthy said. "I left the door open for further conversation on how to improve services."

McCarthy would not comment on OSD's intention to retain or fire Peters.

Alexander said both College Democrats and College Republicans have been negatively affected by Peters' decisions.

"Her job performance is not all that great on a very consistent basis," Alexander said. "She's a very nice lady but that has no bearing on one's job performance."

One of the petition's several recommendations is the creation of an independent appeals board that would review OSD and Marquette Student Government decisions and perhaps overturn those decisions.

"Our biggest frustration is that we have absolutely no say in whether an event is approved or not," Alexander said. "There is no appeal process and no avenue to present our case."