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StandOUT stands up to talk to the Board of Trustees

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By Joshua Vissers

At the Dec. 9 Board of Trustees meeting, three Grand Rapids Community College students stood up to deliver speeches criticizing board members Richard Ryskamp and Richard Stewart.

“…you have established your own personal standard of morality and wholesome living principles and held the school to them with no regard to other opinions and lifestyles,” said Eirann Betka, President of StandOUT, GRCC’s gay-straight alliance.

Ryskamp has consistently spoken against homosexual public speakers and theater productions sponsored by GRCC, and has repeatedly recommended defunding the programs that support them.

Nic Bush, vice-president of StandOUT, voiced concerns that GRCC’s image is being tarnished for future students. He noted that his younger sister has questioned some of the writing that Ryskamp has published on his Facebook page.

“We as students, prospective students, and human beings, have the right to be treated with respect,” he said.

Ryskamp declined to comment at the meeting, but has since made contact with the students.

“I am pleased to have heard from StandOUT since the meeting, that they would like to dialogue with me,” Ryskamp said in an email. “I would hope to discover with greater specificity exactly what StandOUT would like to see happen and exactly what has led to the difficulties, and why.”

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good article! I appreciate the Collegiate in the above article publishing my response. I also appreciate this opportunity to respond here to a few specific lines in the article.

    “You have established your own personal standard of morality…and held the school to them.” Trustees have the duty to hold the College to standards, including standards of morality and ethics. But the standards I endeavor to advocate for are not my own invention, but are those that are evident in the federal and state constitutions, laws derived from those constitutions, and board policies.

    “consistently spoken against homosexual public speakers…” It is not the speakers themselves or what they do in their private lives that is the issue. The issue is the content of the various events, and how that content fits into the mission of the College.

    “declined to comment.” If I had commented, my chairperson and colleagues would have reprimanded me! As is announced at meetings prior to public comment, trustees are not supposed to respond at meetings to public comment.

    “The next regular board meeting is January 27.” Yes. More comments welcome! And those who wish to come and speak can feel comforted knowing that trustees are not supposed to respond; there is thus no need to fear being rebutted at the meeting.

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