“It was the proudest moment of my life,” Retired Staff Sgt. Eric Alva says as he shares the picture of him taken the day Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the law barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from serving in the military, was repealed. If you Google “Obama signs the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” you’ll see Alva smiling, standing immediately to the right behind of Obama as he signed the bill into law. “You know, that’s history, history in the making,” he comments as he fondly remembers his accomplishment.
When Eric Alva sat down with Marquette University Student Government before his Speaker Series appearance on Nov. 14, 2013, he shared more about his personal experiences from fighting for equal rights and his thoughts on the current culture of equality and discrimination.
In 2003, Alva was honorably discharged from the military after an explosion from a landmine caused the amputation of his right leg and broke is left leg and right arm, and made him the first American Marine wounded in the Iraq War.
Alva looked at his devastating injury as a second chance at life and chose to advocate for gay rights in America, and even pursue legislation to make nation-wide change. Alva joined up with Congressman Martin Meehan to work for a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He got a chance to testify and share his story at the House Armed Services Committee Meeting in 2008, where he says he faced extreme opposition.
Alva remembers a testimony given in opposition of the repeal; marking the first time he had heard “ugly opposition to the repeal.” He recounted the testimony, which claimed that, if Congress repeals DADT, “you’re going to have men raping men and you’re going to have women raping women.” At the meeting that day, Alva had to listen to discriminatory comments about gay people that made his “blood boil.”
Though for Alva, it was worth the opposition to see DADT through to the end. He describes the significance of what being at the signing of the repeal meant to him, “Standing there represented people, ever since our country has been in existence, who were gay, lesbian or bisexual who served in uniform but could never be out.”
The signing of the repeal on December 10 22, 2010 changed history and now allows, “patriotic men and women who were valuable for their skills, just like everyone else…to be able to serve their country and even die for their county.”
Opposition to Alva’s equal rights activism did not end after the signing of the repeal. In August 2013, Alva was advocating in his hometown of San Antonio to update the city code to include sexual orientation and gender discrimination in their non-discrimination policy. He was booed during his testimony, and many of those against equal rights for gays made discriminatory claims about gay people.
Recognizing that he will always face opposition, Alva chose to look at the issue in a different way, “You really hear all the ugliness of what someone else’s irrational fear is like. They are just not educated and they are basically ignorant.” Alva says despite facing lies and discrimination, he tries hard not to be like “them” (his opposition) because it will “eat you away.”
However, Alva pointed out that tolerance has come a long way since the beginning of the pursuit of equal rights for homosexual Americans. “There were people who were working on it years before me and I think they faced more harsh criticism then what I did when I was starting to work on repealing DADT.”
Alva urged college students to seek help if they are experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment. “No one should ever be bullied into hiding who they are…no one owns your happiness.”
He also commends and admires young people working towards equality and encourages students to stand up against discrimination, “No one should ever feel that they have the superior power to tell you how to be or act or love or where to live. I mean it’s wrong. It is oppression. It’s cruel.”
Looking to the future, Alva pointed to changes in history, in policy and in society that will contribute to a more tolerant America. Just recently with marriage equality moving forward in Hawaii and Illinois, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and with the election of the first openly gay senator, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, Alva is optimistic for the future. “It’s remarkable how fast we’re going. Makes me a little nervous, but I’m so happy.”
Marquette University Student Government Senate assembled on Thursday, Nov. 21, for its weekly meeting for the approval of its new Financial Vice President (FVP), the allocation of unanticipated revenue from Student Activity Fee and the approval of Student Organization Funding allocations.
Senate brought in the FVP nominee Nicholas Ciccone for final Senate approval before fulfilling his new role.
Before the motion for approval, Legislative Vice Present Kyle Whelton opened the floor to Senate for a period of questions and debate. Afterward, Senate unanimously approved Ciccone as the FVP for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
After the approval of the new FVP, Senate moved on to discuss the allocation of unanticipated revenue from the Student Activity Fee. With unanticipated revenue of $21,000, Senate was faced with the challenge of allocating revenue fairly and strategically to satisfy the needs of the student body. MUSG’s Budget Committee convened prior to the meeting to draft a proposed allocation of funds. Among the proposed distribution was a highly contested $7,425 allocation to the Program Board, specifically for its Unplugged and Speaker Commissions.
Senator Twaddle and Senator Hansen spoke against the Program Board allocation based upon attendance to the Unplugged and Speaker Series events. Both asserted that they believed the investment would better serve other student initiatives.
In order for the allocations to pass, 22 votes were needed. However, with only 19 votes in favor of the allocations, the proposal was rejected. Later in the meeting, Senator Wallace moved to reconsider the motion. After a lengthy period of question and debate the final vote was 14-9-1 resulting in a second rejection of the allocation proposal. The proposal will be sent back to the Budget Committee for reconsideration and will be discussed again in the Dec. 5, Senate meeting.
Senate ended its meeting with the approval of the Student Organization Funding Club Sports allocations. Approved allocations included funds to Club Rowing, Women’s Club Lacrosse, Club Baseball, Club Waterski and Wakeboard, Club Hockey and Men’s Club Lacrosse. Full information on SOF allocations can be found on the MUSG website.
Senate adjourned at 9:58 p.m.
A senior studying International Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences, Sterling Hardaway is in his third year holding a position in MUSG. As a freshman and sophomore, he was an academic senator for the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Student Organizations Committee Chair. Currently, Sterling holds the role of Senior Speaker Coordinator.
Tasked with compiling a committee of students, faculty and administrators from all colleges and areas of campus, Sterling’s primary role is to promote the speaker nomination process to the Marquette community and act as the communication liaison for the nominees.
Reflecting on his three years in the organization, Sterling shared, “What I really like about MUSG is that in each position, we all have our specific roles and responsibilities, but at some point, we work together to see how the issue we are working on can complement each other, and it’s all for the benefit of the student body…”
Outside of MUSG, Sterling is a part of Senior Challenge, Midnight Run, Orientation Staff and Pi Gamma Mu, a social science honor society.
As a kid, Sterling’s favorite TV show was Sonic the Hedgehog. Short, spunky and speedy just like Sonic, Sterling went all out with his Sonic-love, rocking Sonic slippers and sleeping in his Sonic bed.
The Student Life committee focuses on issues that directly affect the student experience here at Marquette. Student life is currently exploring a number of issues. We are looking into expanding water bottle filling stations throughout campus. The committee is also tackling multiple safety issues, including researching poorly lit areas off-campus in hopes of increasing safety.
After meeting with the Milwaukee Department of Public Works earlier this semester, our committee served as a focus group on the addition of pedestrian warning lights on campus and we are currently working on initiatives to increase student awareness of the lights. We learned about the potential for increasing bike racks off-campus, as well as progress being made on bike sharing programs in Milwaukee. We plan to meet with the City of Milwaukee representative on pedestrian and bicycle safety in the upcoming weeks.
The committee is also looking into adding more outlets for students to charge their devices across campus. With the large rush to sign off-campus housing leases early in the semester, we met with Associate Dean for University Apartments and Off-campus Student Services Stacie Dooley to work on student-led methods of pushing back signing dates to later in the year. The committee also hopes to increase awareness of the services the university provides for students living off-campus.
We have looked into some smaller issues as well including myjob.mu.edu awareness, cleanliness of the library seating and advertising of marquettepads.com for off-campus housing. Also, after last semester’s attempts to expand and improve disability services, we met with Associate Director of Disability Services Heidi Vering to learn about resources available to students.
Our committee is also exploring additional meal plan options for students not on the Unlimited or Loyalty 50 options and improvements to recreational and wellness space at Marquette.
If you have any student life concerns or ideas, please contact me or any member of the committee.
Student Life Committee Chair
MUSG is hosting its biannual presidential forum with Interim President Rev. Robert A. Wild on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. in the first floor lobby of the Alumni Memorial Union.
Marquette students are fortunate to get face-time with the leader of the university each semester. However, in case you need more incentive to attend, here are our top five reasons to attend the forum this Wednesday:
1. Make your voice heard for the future of Marquette.
This time of transition creates a unique opportunity for students to have input in the direction of their university.
2. Meet your future spouse.
At the forum, there will be many eligible bachelors and bachelorettes on the prowl. And you thought the square dance was wild…
3. Go wild with questions.
But really. Ask any question you want.
4. Spend some much needed quality time with the President.
It will be like catching up with an old friend. It’s been two years since he last spoke with us and Fr. Wild is eager to reconnect with Marquette students.
5. Father Wild is a boss.
He has his own bobblehead. He wears gold sweater vests. Need we say more?
On Thursday, November 14, 2013, Marquette University Student Government Senate received a presentation from Willie Jolly, president of Marquette’s Residence Hall Association.
Jolly explained that RHA is similar to MUSG’s Senate in that both organizations are made up of student representatives from residence halls, although MUSG also includes representation from each college. In RHA, each residence hall, university-owned apartment and the Evans Scholars house are represented by at least one student.
In addition to its general council, RHA subdivides itself into three standing committees – networking/marketing, advocacy/initiatives and student life – and five programming committees. The programming committees work to put on RHA’s six annual programs, while the three standing committees work on RHA’s three other charges: student voice, leadership and community engagement.
Overall, Jolly described RHA as governing body working with residence hall councils to be the united voice of Marquette students living on campus. In response to a question from Senator Riesenbeck about collaboration with MUSG, Jolly said he hoped to see Marquette’s two undergraduate governing bodies working together more in the coming semester.
In his report, EVP Bowman informed senators that he and adviser Jon Dooley created an executive survey summary for MUSG’s recent gender and sexuality survey. Each senator received a copy of the report and students will be able to review results on MUSG’s website in the coming week.
LVP Whelton reminded senators to attend the MUSG-sponsored Fr. Wild Forum on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 7:00 p.m. in the first floor lobby of the AMU.
In his all-university committee update for the University Board of Undergraduate Studies, CVP Lahr stated the committee voted to approve a change to the structure of the English department, adding a third major tailored toward prospective English teachers to be known as “English Language Arts.”
Senate adjourned at 8:18 p.m.