H.O.M.E sparks debate

Brittany Raysby, Staff writer

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It has been almost two months since the anti-LGBT+ group Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E) brought a controversial storm to Elgin Community College and it’s left certain questions lingering in the aftermath.
The Observer received a complaint from a current student at ECC:

“Hi, I saw your flyer in the hall and thought I might share what frustrates me (but really pisses me off).
I cannot believe that in this day and age there are still people like HOME allowed on campus. I didn’t even know there were such ignorant people around Elgin. Their website is horrible and completely false and spreading misinformation and they use religion as a justification for their BS. I don’t want to go to a school that lets this kind of hate group on campus. Is something being done about it? When will the administration say enough is enough?
Thanks.”
Jack Hermanson

Upon further investigation of the issue, The Observer discovered that H.O.M.E is officially classified as a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights-based law center.

The Observer reached out to ECC’s Director of Student Life Amybeth Maurer to understand the process in which organizations are permitted on campus, and if such classification would bar H.O.M.E from ECC’s campus in the future.

Maurer responded in a written statement concerning the issue:

“Please understand that the college did not invite H.O.M.E to campus. I want to emphasize that the College in no way endorses or agrees with H.O.M.E.’s agenda and having this group on campus does not constitute ECC’s endorsement of the ideas or positions this group expresses,” said Maurer.

“Because the College is a public institution, however, we cannot take the viewpoint of a particular group into account when providing access to our facilities… Indeed, the College has an obligation, under the Illinois Constitution and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, not to discriminate against groups seeking to engage in speech activities on campus based on the content of their message,” Maurer said.

When asked if ECC’s faculty has any say in what organizations visit campus, Maurer said they were able to turn away organizations or vendors under certain circumstances.
“Yes, we do have authority to approve or deny requests based on whether or not the group meets the campus requirements. Each request is reviewed on a case by case basis,” explained Maurer.

The requirements of outside organizations are minimal, but give simple rules for the organizations to follow, such as reserving table space, having clear signage for their organization, and staying behind their designated table. According to Maurer,  H.O.M.E met the general circumstances.

Hermanson however, had different thoughts on the issue. On a follow up email, he explained the nature of his argument.

“These people have the right to spew whatever BS they’d like. However, my tuition should not go toward protecting their abilities to bash people for no legitimate reasons…I would ask that they find some other place to practice their hatred away from a place of education and safety (and preferably not on the tax payer’s dime),” said Hermanson.

Upon being asked what he would do to remedy the situation, Hermanson responded:

“If it were up to me, I’d bring ECC out of the 1800s and to 2017. We are too advanced a civilization to allow such belligerent hatred to run rampant in the halls of ECC. We’re Elgin COMMUNITY College, and thus should serve the community, not foster divisiveness. Free speech is important, but hatred should not be cultivated in our learning environment…The administration should apologize for continuing to allow them to spread hate throughout our campus,” Hermanson said.