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Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome to no longer host BSA Boy Power fund-raiser
Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome to no longer host BSA Boy Power fund-raiserApril 28, 2001Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Syracuse University has informed the Hiawatha Seaway Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that the Carrier Dome will no longer serve as the site for the annual Boy Power fund-raising dinner. SU Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw conveyed the University’s decision verbally in the fall of 2000, confirmed the decision in a letter to Scout Executive Ray Sander dated April 6 and, following correspondence from Sander, reaffirmed the University’s position in a second letter April 26. The principal reason for the University’s decision is the conflicting policies of the two organizations: Syracuse University prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, while the BSA maintains a policy that mandates exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation in certain circumstances. “I am not prepared to ask our Board of Trustees to change our policy, nor do I expect the Hiawatha Council to be able to persuade the national BSA to change its position,” Shaw wrote in the April 6 letter. “Both the University and the BSA are private organizations allowed by law to determine who is and who isn’t permitted to participate in our various activities.” The decision on the fund-raiser has no impact on the University’s support of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. “SU has a long tradition of permitting people of all persuasions to assemble and voice their views on this campus,” Shaw stated. “But the Boy Power dinner is a different matter. It involves the use of the Carrier Dome to raise funds to be used in accordance with BSA policies, including the policy of exclusion based on sexual preference. “When a campus group invites a speaker, we make every effort to provide a forum for expression of his or her views, believing as we do that a complete education includes exposure to the full spectrum of beliefs and ideas. If a campus group were to invite a BSA representative to speak about the organization’s policies, we would certainly welcome him or her. This is different, however, from permitting an organization whose policies conflict with ours to raise funds in our facilities.” While the University and the Hiawatha Council have enjoyed a history of cooperation in staging the Boy Power dinner, only recently has the issue of the BSA’s policy prohibiting gay scouts or scout masters come to the forefront. And with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the BSA’s position, it became clear to SU that the Boy Scout policy would not change. The University permitted this year’s dinner to be held in the Dome out of respect for the Boy Scouts’ past work with boys and young men, and to provide the Hiawatha Council ample time to secure a new site for the 2002 event, Shaw said. The Boy Power dinner has taken place in the Dome since 1984. This year’s event, held April 4, was attended by 2,100 people.