GSB debates placement of symbols

Paige Godden –

The possibility of removing the religious symbols in the Memorial Union Chapel was deliberated at Wednesday’s Government of the Student Body meeting.

“I would just like to see the religious symbols taken out of the chapel,” said Luke Harvey, senior in computer engineering.

Harvey said he believes that the symbols are dominating the space in the chapel. Since Iowa State is a state funded university, it has to obey the first amendment, Harvey said.

Harvey said this problem has escalated so much this year because of what has been written in the Iowa State Daily and he is happy that this is the year that GSB is finally taking action.

“This has been an ongoing issue,” Harvey said. “I remember a lot of debate back in 2005, but nothing was ever pushed, and nothing got done.”

Harvey said he is a member of the Agnostic and Atheist Society, but is not trying to represent the group as a whole.

Jacob Johnston, author of the bill and senior in management, wondered why the issue had not come up before.

“The Chapel has been there for close to 50 years, or at least several decades,” Johnston said.

Johnston was unsure about how the separation between church and state was relevant in this case and said to look at court houses and the “In God we Trust” written on our money.

Johnston added that he thinks it seems as if everyone has been having conversations about tolerance and diversity.

This tolerance has to be a two-way street, Johnston said.

There is now a curtain that can cover the cross in the Chapel, and an Islamic rug as well, Johnston mentioned.

Johnston said he wrote the bill so no student feels as if their side of the issue is not being considered. He also noted that he wanted to ensure the issue has time for debate.

A big question that arose when GSB discussed whether or not removing the symbols is the right choice was considering how they were placed in their current locations.

Johnston said that it’s unclear how GSB would deal with the removal of the symbols. He noted that at some point someone donated those items to be put in those specific places.

This issue will be open to discussion and voted on at next week’s meeting.

The GSB also heard several requests for money.

The CyBuild club was granted $1,339.50 for its efforts to continue cleaning up the Cedar Rapids area.

“We are a construction type volunteer club that does disaster relief,” said Jay Mathes, club president and senior in construction engineering.

Model United Nations received $3,030.32 to go to conferences in Chicago, and an invite-only conference at Harvard University.

The Longboarding club was also granted its request for $1,664,68 for safety equipment and new boards.