Queer History of St. Michael's College

Prepared by Michael Nicholson
Addendum by Bernie Fitzpatrick

This is a brief introduction to the history of queer persons at the University of St. Michael's College (University of Toronto) over the past twenty-five years. It is by no means a complete history, and it is, without question, a continuing history.  As one will see, the problems and issues that students face today are the same problems that our predecessors were forced to challenge and confront - it is a circular history.  The struggle of the USMC to understand and deal with issues of sexuality and sexual orientation continues, as does the struggle the Roman Catholic church faces with this same issue.  One hopes that this is a history that will someday have an end, or at the very least, a positive outcome.  

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this work.  Most of the issues discussed, however, are highly controversial and open to several different interpretations.  Every attempt has been made to be objective and fair, at least insomuch as this is possible when one is writing history.  Heavy reliance has been placed on newpaper articles and first-hand accounts by those involved.  If anyone has further information or experiences as former St. Michael's College students or staff that they would like to share, please contact us.  This is OUR history and it needs to be written.

October, 1969

The University of Toronto Homophile Association is formed (UTHA).  It is the first such organization at any Canadian university (see The Varsity, 2 February

January, 1981

Mike Martin and Matthew Holland, St. Michael’s College representatives to the SAC, vote against a proposal that would provide $150 to Gay Awareness Week on the University of Toronto campus.  The motion is carried regardless and SAC donates the funds. (see The Varsity, 16 January 1981).   

February, 1982

St. Michael’s College Principal William Dunphy refuses to allow the showing of the film: Michael, A Gay Son at the College.  Members of the University of Toronto’s Gay and Lesbian Awareness Week Committee (GLAWC) approach College officials in January 1982 about showing the film, however, Dunphy expresses concerns that it could encourage a homosexual lifestyle and that members of the USMC alumni may be sensitive to the showing of the film.  The internationally award winning film documents the struggles of a young man as he helps his parents come to terms with his sexual orientation. Principal Dunphy stresses to GLAWC members that he is opposed to all forms of discrimination against homosexuals.  The Mike later states in one of its articles that the incident was a politically motivated attempt by GLAWC to embarrass St. Michael’s College and its principal. (see The Varsity, 10 February 1982; The Mike, 12 January 1984)

Also February, 1982

St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) President Patricia Buckley states in The Varsity that a homosexual group would probably have trouble gaining official recognition at St. Michael’s College because of the Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality.  (see The Varsity, 10 February 1982)

November 1983 to February 1984

GLAUT makes a request in the Fall of 1983 to the office of Principal William Dunphy to once again show the film: Michael, A Gay Son at St. Michael’s College.  Some form of communication break-down occurs, with the GLAUT executive accusing Dunphy of failing to respond and attempting to ignore the issue.  Regardless of the request by GLAUT, the film had already been scheduled to be shown during the Spring of 1984 with Dunphy’s approval.

February, 1984

The Mike runs a feature entitled: Gays at St. Mike’s.  Four male students agree to an anonymous interview with the newspaper, outlining their experiences as homosexual men at St. Michael’s College. One student, “Robert,” states that: “There was constant verbal abuse but always from a distance and always in groups. No person alone would hassle you – it would always be three or four or more.  And they didn’t like to show their faces, especially if I was walking by residences they would cat call and yell and then hide.”  All of the students interviewed agreed that their experiences have been so negative that, if given a second chance, they would never have come to St. Michael’s College.  (see The Mike, 10 February 1984)

Also February, 1984

A three day series entitled: Homosexuality: A Catholic Pastoral Concern begins at St. Michael’s College.  The series includes a screening of the film Michael, A Gay Son, which had been previously banned at USMC.  The series also includes talks by members of the Newman Centre, St. Augustine’s Seminary, and the Department of Family Life Education at York University.  A member from Dignity is scheduled to speak, however, backs out at the last minute, leaving an entirely heterosexual panel of speakers.  The SMC College Life Committee, SMC Chaplaincy, and the SMCSU Education Government Commission sponsor the series.  Most agree it was a positive move, however none of the speakers were about to radically question the positions of the Catholic Church (seeThe Mike, 12 January 1984; The Mike, 9 Februay 1984; The Mike, 9 March 1984; The Varsity, 13 January 1984)

August, 1985

Earlier in 1984, the Gay and Lesbian Association of the University of Toronto (GLAUT) is denied by USMC in its request to show the film The Life and Times of Harvey Milk at St. Michael’s College.  The film documents the life of the gay San Francisco City Councilman who was assassinated by a member of an anti-gay movement. After filing a complaint of discrimination with the University of Toronto administration, USMC allows the film to be shown.

In a letter to SMCSU president Chris Wheeler in August 1985, the President of USMC, Father James McConica, proposes that a committee be formed to review the use of college space by recognized campus organizations in the wake of the controversy.  SMCSU President Wheeler expressed a significant amount of displeasure with McConica’s proposal, noting that SMCSU was not interested in any form of censorship, unless it was against some form of hate. (see The Mike, 2 October 1985; The Varsity, 26 February 1990)

November, 1986

An editorial in The Mike is critical of The Varsity and its criticism of the Catholic Church’s opposition to Bill 7, which sought to provide increased rights and protections to homosexuals under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  The Varsity article states in part that both Catholics and homosexuals are minorities and “their hopes and aspirations deserve equal treatment.” In response, the editorial in The Mike states that “It is ridiculous to compare homosexuality, a contemporary social movement concerned more with sexual practices than anything else, with Catholicism which is, at the very least, the embodiment of a system of belief about the nature of God, divine purpose, and man’s dignity and destiny.” (seeThe Mike, 26 November 1986; The Varsity 17 November 1986)

January, 1988

GLAUT runs an ad for the Homo Hop featuring a picture of Pope John Paul II. The advertisement reads in part: “Gays and Lesbians at U of T in association with the Vatican Dance Committee and with the sanction of His Holiness Pope John Paul II present The Holy Homo Hop.  John Paul appears courtesy of His Pompous Self.”  It further states: “Robes, vestments and nifty hat provided through the generously donated efforts of slave labour in selected Third World countries.”  The ad sparks controversy at St. Michael’s College, with USMC student Brian Roche writing that the ad was a “deliberately insulting notice,” and that it “displays their (GLAUT) obvious hostility toward the Roman Catholic Church.”  USMC student Michael Henry wrote that the Homo Hop is an “unholy gathering… which promotes abnormal and perverse relations,” and he further argues that GLAUT should be barred from the University of Toronto. 

David Walberg, who designed the poster with Mark Sheilds, argued that the ad only displayed hostility toward Pope John Paul II and the Roman Catholic establishment, which he called a “despotic institution whose cruelty and inhumanity ultimately affects millions of people, whether homosexuals or third world peasants.”  He argues, however, that the ad was not meant to be an attack on the individual members of the Roman Catholic Church (see The Varsity, 25 January 1988; The Varsity 3 March 1988; The Mike, 3 February 1988; The Mike 7 March 1988).

May, 1989

The Collegium of the University of St. Michael’s College passes a new Code of Conduct that includes a provision stating that it is an offence to discriminate against anyone based on sex or sexual orientation.  A similar provision is later adopted for the Code of Conduct governing the Men’s Residences at the College.

September, 1989

The Board of Directors of The Mike newspaper decide to drop the term “homophobic” from its letter policy, arguing that the word is redundant. The new letter policy reads: “The Mike will not print letters that it, its Board of Directors, or its lawyers deem to be sexist, racist, libellous or hateful.”  The Board of Directors feel that homophobia is already covered under the “hateful” section of the policy. (see The Mike, 27 September 1989; The Varsity, 20 November 1989).

Also September, 1989

St. Michael’s College student Andrew Davidson begins his term as Chair of GLAUT. In November 1989, Davidson announces a stronger political mandate for GLAUT and a difficult year of struggle begins with St. Michael’s College.  In January 1990, Davidson co-writes an opinion piece with Prof. David Rayside in which he argues that “the condemnation of homosexuality which seems so widespread at SMC has relatively little do with scripture, and rather a lot to do with a convenient appropriation of social prejudice.” He further notes that at SMC “being accepted as openly lesbian or gay is next to impossible.”   (see The Varsity, 8 January 1990; The Varsity, 2 February 1993).

November, 1989

November 1989, the University of Toronto SAC holds the annual “Mr. Blue Contest” at St. Michael’s College.  The contest is an annual male beauty pageant, organized and funded by the SAC. One student from Innis College began his performance by imitating his perception of a stereotypical gay man.  The student was met with a cry of “fag” from the audience and a significant amount of heckling.  A second white student painted himself with black make-up in an attempt to imitate “Buckwheat,” a character made famous by comedian Eddie Murphy (see The Varsity, 27 November 1989).

January, 1990

GLAUT initiates proceedings with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Greg McFarlane, Chairperson of The Mike Publications, Inc., after The Mike refuses, on two separate occasions, to publish an advertisement for the Homo Hop.  McFarlane had argued that the paper has the right to publish or not publish what it wants, particularly with regard to Catholic social teaching. The University of St. Michael’s College could not be held responsible as, since 1985, The Mike has been a separate and independent entity from USMC, SMCSU or the Roman Catholic Church (Archdiocese of Toronto). 

The ad had been originally scheduled to run in the 6 December 1989 edition, however, McFarlane called the printer and had the ad removed.  Again in January 1990, the paper briefly considers running the ad, but then decides against it.

 In April 1990, GLAUT and The Mike reach a settlement whereby the paper agrees to run ads for the group and agrees to change its letters policy to read “libellous, hateful or tending to incite hatred against any minority contrary to the Human Rights Code of Ontario.”  The Mike also agrees to recall 6000 copies of the April 1990 edition of The Mike and reprint the paper with the ad for the Homo Hop.  After signing the agreement with GLAUT, McFarlane resigns from his position, saying he feels like Judas, having betrayed the students of St. Michael’s College. (see The Mike, 31 January 1990; The Varsity 8 January 1990; The Varsity 25 January 1990; The Varsity, 12 April 1990; The Varsity, 2 February 1993).

Also January, 1990

USMC President, Father James McConica, writes an open letter to GLAUT Chair and SMC student Andrew Davidson expressing his concern about accusations that there is a significant amount of homophobia on the SMC campus. He notes that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is contrary to Catholic teaching.  He indicates that the USMC Chaplains were asked to look into the issue in December 1989 and to respond with some form of initiative to address the problem.  It is not clear what initiative, if any, was ever undertaken. 

February, 1991

St. Michael’s College Student Union votes against donating $100 to the University of Toronto Committee on Homophobia.  University of Toronto Prof. David Rayside made the request to SMCSU, noting that the donation would be an important statement on the part of the council that the issue of homophobia is serious.  SMCSU decides that it will operate its own initiatives to raise awareness of the issue of homophobia on the USMC campus.  It is unclear what initiatives, if any, are ever undertaken (see The Mike, 14 February 1991)

Spring, 1999

LGBTOUT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered of the University of Toronto) fail in their campaign to receive a 75-cent levy from students at the University of Toronto.  The tax would have been earmarked for a Queer Resource Centre.  Vote breakdowns indicate that students from St. Michael’s College as well as the faculties of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine and nursing killed the levy.  A large throng of St. Michael’s College students reportedly cheer when the vote is announced, with some shouting: “Fuck you all,” to members of LGBTOUT.  (see Xtra!, 8 April 1999)

April, 1999

On Holy Thursday, a group of students from U of T campus Christian organizations and LGBTOUT hold a march through the University of Toronto campus, including St. Michael’s College.

The demonstrators parade a papier-mache crucifix throughout campus, made from homophobic posters recently spread by the “Noble Knights of U of T.”  The posters displayed several homophobic statements including “Gays and Lesbians Positively Need Christ.”  The protesters then held a “kiss-in” at Brennan Hall, which was met with a significant amount of hostility by SMC students.

Several USMC students were enraged, arguing that it the papier-mache crucifix was a desecration of a sacred symbol, paraded on one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.  (see Xtra! 8 April 1999).

September, 2000

The University of Toronto office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources distributes Positive Space campaign materials in the first-year orientation "frosh kits". These materials are actively removed by the Saint Michael's College Student Union (SMCSU) prior to distribution of the kits.

Fall, 2001

The Registrar’s Office of St. Michael’s College becomes the first division to publicly display Positive Space symbols.  The Principal’s Office follows in the summer of 2002 with the appointment of Mark McGowan as principal.  The symbol is composed of an inverted rainbow triangle, meant as a sign that people in that office are supportive of LGBTQ students, staff and faculty and would welcome questions and requests for assistance.

September, 2001

The University of Toronto office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources distributes Positive Space campaign materials in the first-year orientation "frosh kits". These materials are again actively removed by the Saint Michael's College Student Union (SMCSU) prior to distribution of the kits.

November, 2001

Prof. Peter Wolfe from Marquette University, Wisconsin, speaks at St. Michael’s College on the invitation of the St. Michael’s College Students for Life group.  Campus queer organizations are insulted by the invitation, noting Wolfe’s views on morality and homosexuality. In the past Wolfe has publicly denounced homosexuality as an “affliction,” comparing it to alcoholism.  Jude Tate, of LGBTQ Resources at U of T, noted in an article in the Varsity about the issue that "the climate and environment at SMC has been on ongoing conern for people around LGBTQ issues for a long time."  Tate also mentioned that St. Mike's had been removing postive space literature and stickers from frosh kits for the last two years. (see The Varsity 14 February 2003).

Also November, 2001

The first ever meeting of q@SMC (queer at St. Michael’s College) takes place in the wake of the lecture by Prof. Peter Wolfe.  Attempts are immediately made to gain club recognition status at the college, however, problems arise when the religious communities at St. Michael’s, particularly the Basilian Fathers and the Sisters of St. Joseph and Loretto all decline to support the club’s petition for club recognition.  In September of 2002, representatives of the Basilian Fathers and Sisters of St. Joseph agree to sign the club recognition form, however, the petition languishes in bureaucratic delays with the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU).  

January, 2002

Bernard Fitzpatrick, Chair of q@SMC, submits an article for publishing in The Mike, detailing what it is like to have a queer identity at SMC and how it feels to encounter homophobia at St. Michael’s College.  Editor-in-Chief of The Mike, Peter Evans, ultimately decides not to run the story.  The Mike argues that it was looking for a news piece as opposed to an opinion piece and the piece submitted was a cross between a news piece, opinion piece and an advertisement (see The Varsity Weekend, 14 February 2003).

Also January, 2002

Advertisements are displayed for the first ever event held by q@SMC.  Of the first 20 posters displayed, all are torn down or removed from the St. Michael’s College campus.  The group then displays another 60 posters, the vast majority of which are removed.  By the day of the event, only 10 to 15 posters remain.

March, 2002

The Committee on Student Experience, USMC, invites q@SMC to make presentations on the queer experience.  Six compositions are submitted, detailing what it is like to be a queer person at the College.   One academic living in Men's Residence wrote: "I feel pity for those staff members, teachers, dons and priests at SMC whose homosexuality is an open secret, but who will never have the chance to live as gay people in a dignified way."  Another wrote:  "unlike every other college at U of T we live like strangers in our own home.  Regardless of what the residence code may dictate, it cannot protect us from pointing fingers and quiet insults."  

May, 2002

The Toronto Star  publishes an article in which it details many of the difficulties that queer persons, and q@SMC specifically, had been experiencing at the College.  Several students note the isolation and difficulty in being an "out" person at SMC with one student noting that "borderline tolerance and inclusion are two very, very different things, and that is made very clear at our college."  The article does note some of the positive support that queer persons have received at the College, particulary from Sr. Anne Marie Marrin, Dean of Women's Residence at SMC.  Principal Joseph Boyle is also on record in the article as stating that as part of the University of Toronto communty, the college supports and endorses its policies on equity and diversity (The Toronto Star , 7 May 2002, p. A19)

July, 2002

The University of St. Michael’s College adopts a Statement of Inclusiveness, stating that “St. Michael's is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that people of all backgrounds regardless of religion, colour, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class and nationality will feel welcome in its midst."

September, 2002

A Catholic student at the University of Toronto attends a meeting of q@SMC claiming to be interested in joining the group.  An article latter appears in an on-line magazine entitled lifesite.net in several misconceptions and errors.  Among the misconceptions spread are that q@SMC is funded by, and a branch of, the “militant homosexual activist” LGBTOUT and that the group is anti-Catholic in its sentiment.  The article also lists members of the St. Michael’s College community who had supported q@SMC, several of whom later receive hostile correspondence from readers of the article.   

October, 2002

SMC Principal Mark McGowan establishes the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, including two members of q@SMC.

Also October, 2002

q@SMC holds its first elections.  Bernard Fitzpatrick, President, and Jennifer Hamilton, Vice-President.

September, 2002

The University of Toronto office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources distributes Positive Space campaign materials in the first-year orientation "frosh kits". These materials are again actively removed by the Saint Michael's College Student Union (SMCSU) prior to distribution of the kits.

November, 2002

Prof. Peter Kreeft of Boston University holds a lecture at St. Michael’s College entitled “Sexuality, Marriage and the Family,” on the invitation of the St. Michael’s College Students for Life and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.  In the lecture, Kreeft makes comparisons between homosexuality and alcoholism, cancer, bestiality, drinking kerosene and eating mud.  Kreeft also went on to say that one can not be a “homosexual catholic” because such a statement is a category confusion.  

In the days following the lecture, the coverage in The Mike consists of an editorial and an article, both from the Executive Editor, Andrew Krupowicz.  In the editorial, Krupowicz writes that "a certain group of [queer] political radicals, blinded by their own agenda, fail to see SfL's real message and have the audacity to accuse Sfl of spearheading an effort to spread hate."  He also notes that "the current generation of political activists is doing the queer movement a disservice," and that "the true adversaries of queer activists are backward rednecks whose mentality harkens to the days when the state sent pepole to jail for having homosexual sex."  In his article, Krupowicz mentions Kreeft's comparison to cancer wiriting that "he tried to make that disction clear by using a simile that compared sin to cancer, and the doctor's treatement of cancer to the way a person hates the sin, but loves the person - the cancer patient."  He goes on to write that "some people were offended by this simile and assumed that Kreeft was equating gay sex with cancer.  Most, however, understood the professor's point and continued to follow his train of thought." (see The Mike, 22 November 2002)  

November and December,  2002

In the wake of the lecture, q@SMC and LGBTOUT send letters condemning the lecture to The Mike.  The Mike refuses to publish the letters unless controversial sections are edited. Later, an ad designed by q@SMC and financed by concerned campus groups of the University of Toronto is submitted to "The Mike", containing condemnations from the Graduate Student Union, the Student's Administrative Council, and the letters previously submitted by q@SMC and LGBTOUT. Although Editor-in-Cheif Mike Jacques had previously refused the q@SMC letter arguing that it was libellious, he publishes it within the ad for reasons of "diplomacy".  (see The Mike, 22 November 2003, Vol LVI, Issue 7).  

December,  2002

The University of Toronto's Office of Student Affairs begins an investigation into the Kreeft lecture after a number of complaints.  In February, the investigation is concluded after the Principal's Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation releases its own statement regarding the lecture.  There is no official response from the University of Toronto. (see Xtra! 26 December 2002, No. 474; Xtra! 14 February 2004, No. 477)

February, 2003

The "Principal's Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation" publishes a condemnation and statement of dissociation of the Kreeft lecture in "The Mike". The condemnation letter later appears in "The Independant" and "The Bulletin".  While acknowledging that the university is an apporpriate environment in which to discuss difficult questions and engage in scholarly and informed discussion, the members of the Committee stated that the lecture fell far short of the high standards set by the College.  They noted that they were "disturbed by many of the speaker's hypotheses, particlarly on the subject of sexual orientation," and that the speaker created an environment that was "counter-witness" to the College's inclusiveness statement.  They also acknowledged that many members of the audience felt "belittled, patronized and excluded from the Body of Christ because of their sexual orientation."  (see The Independent 6 February 2003, Vol. 25a, issue 21, The Bulletin, 10 February 2003, no.12, The Mike 31 January 2003 Vol LVI, Issue 10).  

Also February 2003

A number of Faculty and Staff members of St Michael's College publish a public statement of concern in response to the condemnation of the Kreeft lecture by the Principal's Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation.  The letter is featured within a "Special Report" by lifesite.net.  The various co-signors argue that the University of Toronto's Statement of Purpose has been violated by the committee's statement, citing the right to "raise deeply distrubing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself." The letter is signed by Prof. Richard Toporoski, Prof. Elmar Kremer, Fr. Guy Trudel, C.S.B., Prof. Thomas Pangle, Prof. Lorraine Pangle, Prof. Clifford Orwin, Prof. Donna Orwin, Prof. John Hartley, Prof. James Morrison and Prof. David Novak of the University of Toronto as well as Fr. Thomas A. Lynch, Acting Dean, St. Augustine's Seminary, Toronto.  

Prof. McGowan replies in The Mike that St. Michael's College, including the Office of the Principal and the advisory committees, strongly endorse the University of Toronto's Statement of Institutional Purpose, wherein academic freedom is guaranteed.  He also confirmed that the St. Michael's College Council passed a resolution clearly stating that the USMC Inclusiveness Statement is not intended to impede academic freedom at the university.  
(see The Mike 14 February 2003)

Also February, 2003

St. Michael's College Students for Life (SMCSFL) send an open letter to the administration of St. Michael's College.  The letter states that: "we have been portrayed as so dangerous that we should not be allowed to speak.  People are not challenging our position; people are challenging whether or not we should even be allowed to state our position."  They further write that "our mission, to present the teaching of the Church with respect to all aspects of life and therefore sexuality, is an important one at a university where one view is aggressively trying to silence those of others."  The letter also challenges the Principal's Advisory Committee on sexual orientation, and more specifically Prof. Mark McGowan, to acknowledge the Catholic Catechism's teaching that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."  (see The Mike, 28 February 2003, Vol. 56, Issue 12).  

Also February, 2003

The St. Michael's College Student Union passes a motion affirming the PACSO condemnation of the Kreeft lecture, but never publishes it. In the same meeting, SMCSU Finance Commissioner and presidential hopeful Chris Deans puts forth a motion which would result in prohibiting the posting of LGBTQ Positive Space materials in the SMCSU office, which fails by a considerable margin. Deans later fails in the SMCSU elections by a small margin.

Also February, 2003

The Graduate Students' Union (GSU) of the University of Toronto writes a letter to Principal Mark McGowan.  The GSU affirms the right to free speech in an academic setting, it argues that the University has a responsibility to respond when that free speech causes serious damage to the campus atmoshpere of diversity and inclusiveness.  The GSU also supports the statement of the Principal's Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation and encourages the President of the University of Toronto to do likewise.  

September, 2003

q@SMC participates independently in the SMC Clubs Fair, and collects a considerable number of signatures for their club status petition.

Members of the religious communities refuse to sign the petition; citing the repercussions of the previous signing and arguing that signing such petitions interfere with the objective functioning of their respective offices. q@SMC scambles to find other religious signers, but does not succeed. The religious communities themselves, with the support of the Office of the President of USMC, ask the SMC Student Union to drop the requirement. SMCSU agrees, just prior to the 2003 round of club recognition.

q@SMC President Bernie Fitzpatrick is asked by SMCSU Frosh-Week organizers to speak at the "SMCSU Alternate Mass", a forum discussing the SMC experience, intended as an alternative to the frosh week mass. Bernie speaks on diversity in a Catholic environment and the Christian example of defying the norm.

The removal of the Positive Space materials from the previous year's frosh kits is discussed in a meeting between Administration and SMCSU Orientation Coordinators (specific date unknown). All coordinators denied removing the materials from the kits in previous years. Orientation 2003 marks the first year in which Positive Space materials were not removed from the frosh kits.

October, 2003

q@SMC presents their case for recognition to the SMC Student Union Club Recognition Board. The application is received positively from the chair and the SMCSU President, Joe
Figueiredo. One member of the board comes prepared with written theological arguments to the effect that q@SMC cannot receive "the semblence of support" from a Catholic University. q@SMC presents prepared counterarguments. Club status is granted by the board, with all but one vote in support. q@SMC also requests a $1000 budget from SMCSU, which is granted in full.

Also October, 2003

A letter is published in the conservative Catholic publication Catholic Insight under the name "Concerned Students at St. Michael's College."  It argues that a serious crisis in Catholic identity has emerged at St. Michael's College, with the Catholic ideals of the College being subverted to "pressure groups lobbying to redefine it along secular mores."  The letter goes on to state that the crisis has deepened with the approval of q@SMC, who reportedly "rejects Catholic pastoral norms and promotes an active homosexual lifestyle, repeatedly labeling those who adhere to church teaching as homophobic."  The letter goes on to cite several Vatican documents on homosexuality, with a final appeal to those for whom this is unacceptable to voice their concerns to the Chancellor of St. Michael's College, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic.  (see Catholic Insight, October 2003)

In response, an article is published in the University of Toronto publication The Newspaper.  In the article, q@SMC defends its position, dismissing the accusation that their goal is to promote an active homosexual lifestyle and rejecting the article as being a poor reflection of the general student attitude toward q@SMC.  

Also October, 2003

The President of the University of Toronto, St. Michael's College Alumnus Robert Birgeneau, issues a letter stating that "we have had instances of homophobia, more persistent in some areas of the university than others."  The letter goes on to note the University of Toronto' s record in extending health coverage, tuition waiver programs and survivor benefits to same-sex couples.  The letter concludes by stating that "we, as a community of students and teachers and staff, must set a precedent for the rest of society by recognizing - and celebrating - our diversity as one of our greatest strengths." (see The Toronto Star, 27 October 2003)  

Also October, 2003

The second series of elections occurs for q@SMC. Jonathan Vandor, SMC student, president, and Jason Ho, Engineering student, Vice-President.

November 2003

q@SMC holds a wine and cheese at St. Michael's College to celebrate its recent club status recognition from SMCSU on November 17th.  Over 70 people attend the event.  The event is significant, as it marks only the second time in the club's almost two-year history that it is able to officially hold an event at the college (the first event being a 30 October 2003 showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show).  For the previous two years the club was prevented from holding any such event on college grounds as it was not recognized as an official college club.  A former fellow of the Pontifical Institute of Medieaval Studies and the University of Toronto's Office of Student Affairs provide funding for the event.

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic refuses to confer a doctorate to Sr. Christina Cathro for her theses entitled: "Listening for the Echo: Contribution of Lesbians' Journeys to Spiritual Direction and Theological Reflection."  Ambrozic refuses to confer the degree due to the fact that he "was concerned about whether it was appropriate for him to personally confer the degree."  Instead, Ambrozic asks U of T chancellor Senator Vivienne Poy to confer the degree.  The Archdiocese of Toronto refuses to comment on the situation, and USMC President Dr. Richard Alway, states that he does not want to speculate on what Cardinal Ambrozic may have been thinking, but notes that it was understood when they spoke that the cardinal's decision not to personally confer the degree was specifically because of Sister Cathro.  Cathro is disappointed, stating this "is a story of life rejected, of research rejected, and of homophobia manifest in the high reaches of the Roman Catholic Church."  (see Globe and Mail - 8 March 2004, Catholic New Times - 29 February 2004)

March 2004

St. Michaels College Student Union (SMCSU) Councillor Terrence Douglas initiates a drive to reinstate the religious signature requirement for all student groups at St. Michaels College.   On the argument that the religious communities of St. Michaels College need to have greater inclusion in the life of the College,  Douglas gains the support of several student groups.  In September 2003, the requirement was suspended by SMCSU after the Basilian Fathers and the Sisters of St. Joseph refused to sign the club status petition for any clubs at the college.  The refusal was due in part to a number of articles published by a right-wing conservative religious internet magazine entitled lifesite, as well as the religious orders desire to retain impartiality among students.

The initiative by Douglas places significant doubt on the ability of q@SMC to obtain official club status at the College the following year.  On the 13 March 2004, a constitutional amendment is put forward to SMCSU to remove the religious signature requirement from the SMCSU constitution.  Douglas, with Daniel Bader (President of COMPASS Catholic Fellowship), and David Elliot (Executive member of SMC Students for Life) argue that SMC Chaplain Fr. Terry Kersch's advice to remove the religious orders signature requirement from the club recognition process should be ignored, since he is not the superior of the Basilian Fathers and the Superior has not yet said anything on the topic.  The vote to remove the signature requirement was 12 for and 5 against, however the motion does not have the 2/3 majority required for a constitutional amendment and it fails.

In the days following the vote, Fr. Terry Kersch is given explicit authority by the Basilian Order to speak on their behalf in all matters related to club recognition at St. Michaels College.  He states that the Basilian Order does not want to have imposed on it any requirements by SMCSU regarding club recognition, and that the Basilians do not want their signatures to be required for club recognition.  The inability of SMCSU to resolve this problem leaves the club recognition process in a state of confusion for September 2004.

Also in March, Jude Tate, co-ordinator of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Queer Resources and Programs at the University of Toronto, provides a brief half-hour presentation to the St. Michaels College Student Union prior to their 14 March 2004 meeting.  The presentation discusses the role of student leadership at the college as it relates to LGBTQ issues.  Approximately 16 of the 28 member council attend the optional session.

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