In less than four days, the group St. Olaf Votes No! has collected more than 600 signatures opposing the proposed Minnesota marriage 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.
The petition reads:
Show our numbers in Ole solidarity against the MN Marriage amendment!
The Saint Olaf Mission Statement declares that “Saint Olaf College strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs.” It insists that students are challenged to lead “lives of unselfish service,” and to be “responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world.” The fulfillment of these values hinges upon Saint Olaf being not merely an isolated institution of learning, but truly a college upon a hill. So because Saint Olaf has given so much to all of us, we must ask a little more. We must ask the Saint Olaf Community to voice aloud what it knows to be true, that Saint Olaf believes in a Minnesota with marriage for all, with love and commitment for all. The St. Olaf community can do no less, and as Oles, we should expect no less. If you consider yourself an Ole of any manner, sign this petition so that we may show our numbers, and vote no on November 6th.
David Gonnerman with St. Olaf media relations told Patch that the college won't take an official position on the issue.
"The appropriate role for a college is to encourage and prepare its students to take informed positions on public policy issues, to participate in discussion of them, and to exercise their right to vote. St. Olaf's mission states that we 'challenge our students to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world' and we encourage all Minnesotans to do the same. This is the role St. Olaf embraces.
But St. Olaf doesn't take official positions on the many issues that are now and will be under public debate."
Several signees of the petition have left comments of support.
"I can't stand the thought that the friends I made at Saint Olaf won't be able to share the same rights I have. Minnesota has a proud history as a progressive, beautiful place; we must not let that history be tarnished," wrote Gabriel Rholl.
Late last week, a group of alumni from also started a petition about the issue. Unlike the St. Olaf Votes No! petition, which is for general opposition to the proposed amendment, the one started by Carleton alumni urges the school to publicly oppose the proposed marriage amendment.
That petition has collected about 300 signatures. There's also a Facebook group called Carleton Alumni for Marriage Equality supporting the effort.
In June, more than at Carleton's in support of , an effort to defeat the proposed amendment.
Eric Sieger, director of media relations for Carleton, had the following to say when asked about the petition.
"We'll be communicating with our internal community about this and other election matters and policies in the days ahead. Once we've had a chance to communicate to our campus, we'll be able to comment publicly," he said.
The petitions come on the heels of Augsburg College last week publicly opposing the marriage amendment.
Augsburg College, a private Minneapolis liberal arts college associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, was the second higher educational institution in Minnesota to publicly oppose the marriage amendment, according to Minnesotans United for All Families. The school, which has an enrollment of 4,000 students, joined Capella University, which publicly opposed the amendment last month.