Our Campus United, an association of College students and alumni, held a press conference Feb. 5 asking SavetheWrenCross.org and national political figures to stop politicizing the debate over the presence of the cross in the Wren Chapel.
p. Our Campus United believes that the College community should come to a decision on its own regarding the presence of the cross, without the influence of outside political views and agendas.
p. “Not all members of Our Campus United agree on whether President Nichol’s decision was correct,” senior Nate Nichols, a member of Our Campus United, said. “Nor do we have a position on whether or not the policy change instituted by President Nichol should be retained or reversed. We believe that an honest discussion of this issue cannot happen unless we remove politics from that chapel.”
p. Members of the organization said that they believe SavetheWrenCross.org has turned what should be an on-campus, religious debate into a national, political debate by involving outside conservative figures including former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Fox News commentators and conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza.
p. The Virginia Gazette reported Feb. 7 that Virginia General Assembly Delegate Jack Reid (R–Henrico) is supporting legislation that would effectively force the College to return the Wren cross to its original position. Though the language is vague, mandating that “any building interior or exterior change, alteration or modification shall be restored to its original state with 45 days,” it is clearly aimed at forcing the College to restore the cross permanently to Wren Chapel.
p. “We wouldn’t want to speculate about the legislature’s intent. We don’t see [the College] in the language that’s before us. The legislature is still in session, so we’ll have to see where we are when the dust settles,” Stewart Gamage, vice president for public affairs, told the Virginia Gazette.
p. The General Assembly will consider the proposed amendment along with its other business beginning Wednesday, and a joint decision between the House and Senate will be reached before the session closes.
p. This congressional action mirrors the students’ concern that the Wren cross controversy has become overly politicized.
p. “Many of us believed this to be an issue of faith, something we needed to ‘fight’ for, when all the while it’s been a political battle, allowing outsiders to come to campus and use the honest faith of hundreds of students for political gain,” Kate Perkins, a senior and founder of Our Campus United, said.
p. Perkins added that not all Christians at the College support displaying the cross in the chapel at all times because many believe that they can follow God whether or not they are in the presence of a Christian symbol.
p. “We don’t need symbols to be Christians. This is our college community and [lawmakers] are using our college, my faith and our community as your pawns,” Perkins said.
p. Casey Shaw, a sophomore who signed the petition on SavetheWrenCross.org, does not believe that the debate over the Wren Cross involves many outsiders.
p. “I wouldn’t say it’s a strong outsider battle. I’d say that most of the ties and the interest and the issues have come from people that are either Virginia residents, students at the College or alumni.”
p. Shaw also believes that members of SavetheWrenCross.org have received no political gain in the debate and simply care about the campus.