Campaigners for Measure 36 who set up a table between Smith andNeuberger Halls were met with a mixed reaction from studentsyesterday, as a group of No on 36 supporters formed a line of signsin front of the table.
Measure 36 would amend the state constitution, defining marriageas between one man and one woman.
The Yes on 36 campaign said that it plans several moreappearances at PSU in coming weeks.
While both groups were approached by supporters of theirrespective campaigns, the Yes on 36 camp reported somedisrespectful student response, which volunteers say was largelyexpected.
“We showed up and had our booth set up,” said Jasmine Malmin, asenior in communications. “A cigarette butt was thrown across thetable. People were taking all our products at once, obviously tothrow them away. Mostly it was people yelling, calling us racist,calling us bigots. They were actually blocking people fromapproaching our table. If they can have a voice, we can have avoice.”
“They think having a table here is offensive,” Malmin said, “butif the other side is visible,
we should have a presence here.”
Click Patterdale, who is part of the campus action group for theNo on 36 campaign credits students unaffiliated with No on 36 withthe disrespectful actions that Yes on 36 volunteers experienced.”We were mostly not engaging them in conversation,” she said, muchless messing up their table or destroying materials.
Patterdale said No on 36 supporters wanted equal time andvisibility as the Yes on 36 campaign. After finding out that it wasOK to stand in front of the Yes on 36 table, she and othervolunteers lined up, despite warnings from Queers & Alliesrepresentatives that they might be escorted off campus.
Many students passing by the table had some harsh words for theYes on 36 supporters, regardless of any affiliation with anofficial campaign.
“People were calling us Nazi, saying ‘This is a liberal school,what are you doing here?’ We’re used to that, that’s fine,” saidPeter Kinnan, a Portland resident who volunteers for the campaign.”You’re going to have that and I guess it’s part of theprocess.”
Comprised of both students and non-students, the Yes on 36 grouprepresents the Defense of Marriage Coalition.
As with all non-student groups, Yes on 36 needed the sponsorshipof a student group to have a table on campus. The campaign madearrangements through Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.
The volunteers are representing Yes on 36 at about 10 collegecampuses around the state, including all the PCC campuses, MountHood Community College and Clackamas Community College as well asConcordia, Warner Pacific, OSU and UO. Kinnan said the group hasbeen at MHCC for two weeks.
Between congratulating a newly married couple who thanked thevolunteers for coming to campus and passing out CD and brochures,Kinnan said, “Overall, it’s been good. People say ‘Thank you forcoming, where have you guys been?’ Of course there’s always somenegative responses,” he said. He added that negative responses he’sheard have usually been “more vocal” than positive ones and that,in his experience, opposition would rather call names than debatethe issue.
“Obviously we’re not the most popular table on campus,” Kinnansaid. He described the plan for campus visits, admittedly late inthe campaign, as “more of a response” to the high visibility of Noon 36 supporters.
“Ninety percent of the time it’s positive. Ten percent of thetime we get opposition. Even then, we get very few people who wantto discuss. You try to say, ‘Hey, tell me what you think, I’ll tellyou what I think,’ but there’s usually not a whole lot ofthat.”
Until today, Patterdale said, she and others have kept the No on36 promotion in the park blocks since, as a non-student group, theyneeded sponsorship of a student organization to have a tablebetween buildings.
That is sponsorship that student group Queers & Allies can’tgive, said Queers & Allies Coordinator Morgan Stimson. Becausethe group is funded by student fees, which are considered statemoney, it is not allowed to promote candidates or take positions onballot measures.
At a Queer & Allies meeting yesterday afternoon, anorganizer from the No on 36 campaign appeared and made anannouncement about volunteer opportunities, Stimson said. The groupalso discussed the events of the day.
Besides not being allowed to endorse a political group, Queer& Allies goes on record that they are not unanimous on theissue, anyway.
“That group has every right to be on campus, although it isupsetting to a lot of us,” Stimson said. “We are not taking aside.”
Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship is a Student Organization Councilgroup. SOC groups have much more freedom to sponsor non-studentgroups. No on 36 is now seeking sponsorship through the PaganStudent Association, another SOC group.
Oregon is one of 11 states where voters will face the issue onNov. 2.