To vote, or not to vote, that is the question.
That’s what Carleton College faculty members are mulling over when it comes to the proposed Minnesota marriage amendment. Attention has turned to the east side of the Cannon River after St. Olaf College’s faculty last month took a symbolic vote to oppose the amendment.
On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman—which would limit marriage to opposite sex couples.
Carleton Faculty President Clara Hardy said faculty members are still determining if the issue will be on its agenda for their first meeting of the year on Oct. 1. If the issue does make it to the agenda, which should be finalized next week, it would be handled in two stages, Hardy said.
First, there would be a discussion to determine whether a vote is appropriate. If the faculty deems it inappropriate, the issue would be dropped. If faculty members consider it appropriate, then they would vote on a resolution opposing the amendment.
The problem is that no one has brought forth a resolution on which to vote.
The Carleton Student Association (attached as a PDF) has passed a resolution opposing the proposed amendment and has pitched that resolution to different groups within the Carleton community, including faculty, staff and the board of directors.
Hardy said a faculty member could also propose to use resolutions passed by other faculties or higher education institutions.
St. Olaf’s faculty was the third to pass a resolution opposing the amendment, joining the faculties from the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell College of Law. Augsburg College and Capella University—the schools, not faculties—have also passed resolutions publicly opposing the proposed amendment.
But in the end, some kind of resolution would need to be offered up to Carleton faculty if they decide to vote on the matter.
Hardy, who personally opposes the amendment, said the biggest challenge is if the faculty, as a whole, should be making statements about the marriage amendment, voter ID and other issues that affect campus.
Separating the appropriateness of the vote from faculty members’ feelings about the marriage amendment issue is “what makes the debate difficult,” Hardy said.
“There are a lot of faculty who feel pretty strongly that if the faculty were to take a position it would exclude positions of viewpoints” in classrooms, she said. “We, as a faculty, need to maintain neutrality and need to foster critical thinking about things rather than giving the right answer.”
Should the matter not make the agenda for Oct. 1, Hardy said the next faculty meeting is Nov. 5—the day before Election Day—which could render a potential vote, meant to be symbolic, a moot point.
Vote No Support
The "Vote No" movement has been growing in Northfield since June when more than 250 people gathered at Carleton's Weitz Center for Creativity in support of Rice County Votes No, an effort to defeat the proposed amendment.
Petitions have since popped up on both campuses opposing the amendment.
A group of alumni from Carleton College is petitioning the college to take a stand against the issue. That petition has collected 330 signatures. There's also a Facebook group called Carleton Alumni for Marriage Equality supporting the effort.
The college will not take a stance on the issue.
Eric Sieger, director of media relations for Carleton, told Patch "we clearly value the personal choices and commitments of every member of the Carleton family ... (but) we do not take political stances on social issues that do not involve our core educational mission."
Following the St. Olaf faculty vote, Minnesotans United for All Families released the following statement:
Each time a city, faculty, business or community of faith speaks out against this amendment it sparks conversations all across the state about what marriage means and who should have the freedom to participate in it. We are proud to see more and more Minnesotans say that they will treat all people the way they want to be treated, instead of singling out same-sex couples and excluding them from the freedom to marry.
More marriage amendment posts on Northfield Patch
- St. Olaf Faculty Opposes Minnesota Marriage Amendment
- Carleton Responds to Petition to Oppose Marriage Amendment
- Alumni Petition Carleton College to Oppose Marriage Amendment
- Minnesota Companies that Oppose the Marriage Amendment
- Minnesota Companies that Support the Marriage Amendment
- Just Food Co-op Signs as Coalition Partner with Minnesotans United for All Families
- POLL: Do You Approve Of The Marriage Amendment's Ballot Title?
- Why I Am Voting Yes for the Minnesota Marriage Amendment
- A Legacy—A Poem Opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment
- The Soul of the Thing
- One Reason I Oppose the Marriage Amendment: The Children
- For the Sake of Minnesota's Constitution—JUST VOTE NO!
- VIDEO: Rice County Group Launches Campaign Against MarriageAmendment
- PHOTOS: Rice County Group Launches Campaign Against Marriage Amendment