Friday, September 11, 2015

Follow up on Scarborough

Several years ago, about a year after graduating from DePaul University in Chicago, I wrote this blog post about Scott Scarborough leaving his post as DePaul's Executive Vice-President of Finances.  I was not a fan of Mr. Scarborough.  Occasionally I've been contacted about the post, as Scarborough has bounced around the country from university gig to university gig.  Different student activists wanted to figure out 'who is this guy?'  They would google him and find my blog.

Recently I've been contacted by several student activists, and even some reporters.  Scarborough is now the President of the University of Akron in Ohio, is make drastic cuts to the school which has led to a 'Graduates Not Greed' campaign which claims that "President Scarborough has proved over and over again that he cares more about lining his pockets than educating students."  They post examples of Scarborough's cuts to essential university services on a facebook page.  They even made this video with paper lunch bag administrators:

This has led people to ask me about my blog post about Scarborough, namely about my sources for claiming that he held extreme anti-gay views while he was President of the University of Texas Austin's Student Government in the mid-1980's. Back in 2007 I heard from verbal sources about Scarborough's past, and dug up articles from the Daily Texan.  I think at the time I had access to an online archive.  Since then I lost the copies of the articles, but still had notes and the wonderful people at the University of Texas Austin's Interlibrary Services were happy to send me scans of the articles I requested.  

There are some really stunningly ignorant anti-LGBTQ quotes and sentiments that Scarborough said back in 1985.  Here's a short list:

  • In 1984 as a student Senator voted to abolish the Subcommittee on Homosexual Affairs.
  • Attempted to amend a resolution to state that 'the senate does not endorse homosexuality'.
  • Led a walkout of other student government senators in an attempt to prevent quorum and block a pro-LGBTQ rights resolution.
  • Defended the walkout by claiming that preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would 'create a potential health hazard' for restaurant owners.
  • Said that the resolution was an attempt to further a 'political agenda.'
  • Thinks that the LGBTQ movement's intent is to make homosexuality 'more desirable than the traditional family.'    
Scarborough's walkout failed, and the resolution which sought to amend the University of Texas' standards on equal educational and employment opportunity to include the terms 'affectional or sexual orientation' passed.

Now, there is some stuff in my original blog post that isn't verified in these articles.  The stuff about how Scarborough was relieved from DePaul and the activities of the schools former President were more verbal sources than paper documents.  In hindsight I probably wouldn't have posted that if I were writing it today.  As a shit-kicking college activist you want to get stuff online, kick the hornets nest, and see what shakes out.  As an older organizer, I prefer to patiently document every detail.  However, that doesn't mean that there aren't some documents waiting for the right student researcher / journalist at the University of Akron to dig up.  That goes as well for my claim in the original post about Scarborough talking about homosexuals spreading AIDS through fecal matter.  I wrote the blog post about 8 years ago, and so there are two possibilities - either that I had a verbal source for that statement, ran with it, and was planning on correcting it with the documented news articles when I wrote about it in my book 'A People's History of DePaul Univeristy,' or that there is another documented newspaper article where Scarsborough makes those statements, but I didn't have it in my notes and thus was unable to direct the library archivists on where to find it.  Again, something that I'm sure an enterprising student journalist or activist could find out.  Maybe they have access to an online archive or microfilm of the Daily Texan.  Or Maybe they could get funding to travel to Austin and look at the microfilm in their library. 

It might be interesting to find some of the students who knew Scarborough in the 1980's, and to see if they could point us to some of the other things he might have said or believed back then.  I've started by e-mailing Marc Moebius, the original sponsor of the LGBTQ non-discrimination resolution who according to his linkedin went on to Princeton and became a French/English translator in Paris. 

Now Scarborough did all of this 30 years ago.  It's quite possible that as the rest of the country has evolved on LGBTQ rights, that Scarborough has as well.  Someone ought to ask him.  And they can ask him if he's evolved so much on it why he cut funding and fired all staff to the University of Akron's Multicultural Center which sought to "intentionally connect students of all races, genders, cultures, sexual orientation, etc., in a holistic, inclusive, and supportive learning environment" and "to provide resources and a variety of support systems for students as they explore diversity in their classroom experience providing a holistic approach to understanding the various multiplicities of diversity which include: race, ethnicity, gender expression and identity, disability, nationality, spirituality and sexual identity" [emphasis mine].

Further Follow up:  This post certainly ruffled some feathers. I said that there were probably more documents available waiting for someone to dig up and verify Scarborough's anti-gay past.  Sure enough, the activists at Graduates Not Greed did.  They also posted them on their website.  I'm not going to post them here, but did save copies.  Scarborough did take time to renounce his previous views, in an article of HuffPo he said, "Like many people, my views have evolved over the last 30 years...We all have learned much since those days and, if I knew then what I know now, I would not have taken the steps that I did or said what I did as a student in the 1980s. I sincerely regret any offense or concern those past actions or statements have caused.”  And yes, it took 30 years and an avalanche of student pressure for him to say that.  I guess the moral is that student activism works.  I don't think this revelation was the tipping point, but it certainly was a part of the many problems Scarborough brought upon himself that led to his resignation from the University of Akron.

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