Campus still silent on Salvation Army bin controversy

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An ASUC Senate bill that recommended UC Berkeley remove all Salvation Army donation boxes from campus property was one of last semester’s most controversial senate bills.

The bill, SB 175, was passed unanimously by the senate and claimed that the Salvation Army donates a portion of its proceeds to anti-gay lobbying. It asked the university to replace Salvation Army bins with those of another charitable organization.

Although the initial reaction has subsided, the controversy remains as both sides expectantly await UC Berkeley’s response as to whether it will follow through with the recommendation.

CalSERVE Senator Nolan Pack, who was the primary sponsor of the bill, said that while the university is under no obligation to respond, he believes it will.

“I would be surprised if the university will keep the (donation) bins because of the Salvation’s dark history,” Pack said.
William Roberts, commissioner of the Salvation Army, responded in an article published by the Washington Times in December.

“The Salvation Army believes that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor, including race, gender and ethnicity,” he wrote. “We firmly oppose the vilification and mistreatment of any member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, just as we oppose the mistreatment of anyone.”

Pack, however, said he will be sending a letter to the chancellor on Wednesday to pressure the campus to urge it to break all ties with the charity.

“(Roberts) doesn’t mention that (the Salvation Army) has actively resisted or opposed same-sex laws,” he said. “(It) uses its size as an organization as political leverage.”

He noted that the Salvation Army left San Francisco after the city required it to provide benefits to same-sex partners and threatened to do the same in New York City.

“Roberts should have to explain why he portrays the Salvation Army as an employer that embraces equality when it has fought so ferociously to keep itself exempt from anti-discrimination and Domestic partner legislation,” Pack wrote in his letter.

Matthew Enger, the communications director for CalSERVE and author of the bill, said the university will respond because Pack is an elected representative of the student body.

“As an elected official, he has a platform to ask the administration about policies,” he said. “Even if the administration isn’t willing to give a response now, I believe in time they will because there are too many people in the student body who care about this issue to just let it lie.”

UC Berkeley could not be reached for comment.

Ally Rondoni covers the ASUC. Contact her at [email protected]