California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Letters To The Editor: Concerns On Gallegly Center

“At their October meeting, the Cal Lutheran Board of Regents voted to approve the construction of the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Civic Engagement in the middle of the Pearson Library, the most visible manifestation of which will be a reconstructed replica of Mr. Gallegly’s congressional office.

The library is meant to be an academic space where students can encounter a dazzling variety of ideas, arguments, facts, worldviews, and expressions. The members of the library staff—a professionally trained, highly skilled group of people—work very hard to make it that way. Why would the Board of Regents, the university administration, and Mr. Gallegly himself wish to undermine their efforts?

Some proponents of the Center argue that it will be non-partisan. (Others, or perhaps the same ones, also argue that it is important to have a visible sign that conservative voices are welcome on campus. I want to ask: well, which is it? And does it need to occupy the very heart of the campus in order to count?) However, the Center will in fact be legible primarily in terms of what it represents: the legacy of a particular, partisan politician, with a record of immigration policy deeply at odds with the values of the University and the ELCA.

If Mr. Gallegly and his donors wish to contribute with integrity to the intellectual and public life of this university—and they should—they must fully fund the promised fellowships and archives before converting a carefully and thoughtfully planned library space into something it was never designed to be. Then they should work respectfully with stakeholders to arrive at an acceptable alternative design and location for the Center.

The current design and implementation plan of this project should be resisted by the campus community.

Sam Thomas

Professor, Department of Religion”


“Dear Dr. Kimball,

I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts from CLU in 2008, your first year and CLU’s commemorative 50th year. I remember lining up to process through an aisle of my professors on graduation day and saying to my roommate next to me, “I can’t believe how much this place changed me.” Throughout the last 9 years of my life and career, I have proudly proclaimed CLU as the source of how I became the person I am today – I went on to earn a Master’s in Public Policy from George Mason University and built a career on health advocacy primarily focusing on maternal health, reproductive justice, and health care access. Now I manage a women’s health clinic at UCLA Health, primarily serving MediCal recipients.

I transferred to CLU on the encouragement of my Lutheran pastor at home in Richmond, Virginia. My family life was extremely toxic and included substance abuse. Going to CLU saved my life. The friends and relationships I made are the ones most important to me to this day. I majored in Sociology and minored in Religion and Gender Studies. I was honored to take Science and Christian Theology from Dr. Jarvis Streeter. I studied abroad in Turkey with Dr. Julia Fogg. I’ll never forget Dr. Jonathon Cordero saying in Contemporary Social Theory, “Before you change the world, you have to understand it.”  And I went on to earn my Masters in Public Policy on the encouragement of Dr. Haco Hoang who said to me “You have all this information about the problems of society. Now go make it better.” The very same sentiments you used in explaining the center “to give students in the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program a background and resources to pursue careers in public service” are the very same that leave me so desperate for you to stop this construction and end this project. If the center is to be non-partisan, then why is it honoring such a partisan person? NONE of any of our CLU buildings honor partisan policians. Why is CLU breaking with tradition now?

I am also privileged to be white, a legal U.S. citizen, and have a post-graduate degree. I also have type 1 diabetes, am gay, and work in women’s health. Try to imagine my physical reaction yesterday when I read that CLU is erecting a center dedicated to Elton Gallegly, who has a 26 year record of voting against my personal well-being, the well-being of the patients I serve at UCLA, and most shocking of all, against the values that the ELCA holds so dearly. The values that brought me to CLU over a decade ago.

How is my LEED-certified CLU honoring a man who voted against education grants for outdoor experiences in 2008 and speed up forrest thinning projects in 2003? Is Mr. Gallegly’s endowment covering the cost of making this center LEED certified? Does the Advancement Office need to be reminded that CLU hosted the 2017 Southwest California Synod Assembly, and voted overwhelmingly in favor of resolutions to become both a Sanctuary and a Jubilee synod stating “the congregations of our Synod will commit to pray for immigrants and refugees among us and will strive to be places of radical welcome, refuge, and protection” but that “that we will work to protect the dignity, safety, and basic human needs of all immigrants and refugees among us, even by resisting policies that seek to turn away and harm the stranger”?  Whereas Elton Gallegly said on immigration “Get the criminal aliens out. They need to be deported,” And now CLU is building an office replica of the former Ventura County Republican Congressman? I can’t think of a more inappropriate use of CLU money.

And what is the rush to break ground? As the article in the Echo highlighted, students are about to start exams and the school wants to begin construction? Is Mr. Gallegly’s endowment covering the cost of a soundproof wall? This must be an enormous endowment for the school to compromise it’s core values and risk losing alumni contributions. Is CLU willing to make financing for this project public so that alumni who are LGBT, first generation immigrants, and people of color can know if their alumni dollars are financing this project?

I beg that you delay construction to hear the voices of alumni. As long as CLU is financing this project, I will not contribute a penny. Being 10 years out from graduation and having graduated on the eve of the recession, I (and my fellow alum) are just now reaching a point in our careers where we can give back to the place that was so important to are formation as professionals and as civically engaged people. It sickens me that I can’t contribute to another student’s experience at CLU.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my plea,

Ashley Medley

Class of 2008″


“To the editor:

I am writing with concerns about the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Civic Engagement.

Concern 1: Process.  Faculty as a whole learned about the proposal to establish the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center on Monday October 9, 2017, with the Board meeting to vote set for Saturday October 14, 2017 (less than a week’s notice); faculty had little to no chance to discuss or provide feedback.  To my knowledge, no effort was made to inform students or staff in any timely manner at all, nor to solicit feedback.  Bringing campus community voices (students, staff, and faculty) into the discussion after the project has already been approved is not consistent with the relationship that the campus community aspires to have with the Board of Regents, University Development/Advancement, or our highest levels of administration.  There needs to be a conversation on that relationship, and how the Board’s actions in this current situation violate our expectations of that relationship.

Concern 2: Mission, identity, and values.  Elton Gallegly’s past actions are not just inconsistent with but opposed to the mission of CLU and the identity and values we aspire to.  It has been suggested that discussion on this is political and opposition to the Center is partisan, but I strongly disagree with that.  When we look at Gallegly’s political career and his associated actions, the issues of concern to me are not policy issues (the details of how we achieve certain goals) but are ethical, issues about how we treat undocumented persons, about our engagement with other cultures, and about how we treat underrepresented persons in our community.  As I think back over the past couple of years at CLU, off the top of my head I recall

• A dramatic shift in CLU’s faculty hiring practices to improve equity and diversity

• A presentation by the President to the faculty concerning how CLU might serve as a sanctuary for undocumented persons in the Trump age

• Multiple presentations by the Provost on the need for and progress on a campus-wide equity and diversity initiative

• The establishment of CLU as an HSI and the hiring of faculty and staff to support this

• The first HSI STEM Academy (I’m honored to have worked as one of the developers and instructors)

And now, the establishment of the Gallegly Center honoring the work of a person whose values are opposed to all of these actions, and whose mission at the highest levels of government has been to oppose exactly these sorts of advancements.  I am utterly unable to reconcile the Gallegly Center with CLU’s current goals of equity and diversity or its mission statement.  Apparently, Elton Gallegly is unable to reconcile his past with his present as well; his Wikipedia page, , is scrubbed free of any mention of nearly any of his political activities, and in fact notes that “Gallegly’s activism has focused on the issue of animal rights”.  How can our community justify celebrating the political career of a person who himself doesn’t wish to publicly acknowledge it?

Concern 3: Good common sense.  Putting aside the question of whose name is on the Center, we are still removing space that is used by students and replacing it with space that will be used by almost none of our students, ever.  At a time when the campus is short on space, this exhibits an appalling lack of good common sense.

Concern 4: The ongoing conversation.  As you may know, students have been circulating a petition and posting signs in the Library where the Center will be located.  Sometime on Wednesday November 8 or the morning of Thursday November 9, library staff were asked to remove all signs in the Library due to an impending visit by Elton and Janice Gallegly.  To my knowledge, they did so.  Later on Thursday, library staff received an email allowing them to replace the materials.  I do not know whether the materials were present while the Galleglys toured the space.  I received an email Thursday evening indicating that the order to library staff was “an error in communication”; however, given the extremely serious nature of academic freedom and the preservation of free speech on the campus, I find it difficult to understand how an error of this magnitude could be made.  Taken together with the exclusion of the campus community from the proposal discussion process, an ugly pattern starts to emerge.

Concern 5: Financials.  I don’t know much about the financials on this…and that’s a problem.  In contrast, during the process to construct a new science building, faculty have been consulted for more than a decade on the plans and financials of that building.  Little to no information about the financials underlying this Center has been made available to the campus community.  Why not?

In conclusion, I have serious concerns about the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Civic Engagement, including the use and maintenance of the physical space, the process by which the project has been approved, and the implications the establishment of this Center has for our community’s commitment to advancing equity and diversity.  To echo the students who are circulating a petition, I would also like to ask that the establishment of this Center be delayed while a thoughtful and well-informed conversation is held in our community.


Dr. Christopher Brown

Mathematics Department”

* Letters to the Editor are published as submitted. These copies have not been edited by The Echo staff. 

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