A top Touro
University official apologized Monday, saying students
were mistakenly told that a campus club tackling gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues had lost university
funding and had been banned from using the medical school's
|| BRYAN HOPPING,
University's Gay-Straight Alliance spokesman,
speaks at Friday's rally. At left are Rebecca
Sadun of the American Medical Student Association
and Joel Ginsberg of the Gay and Lesbian Medical
Association. Photo: Mike Jory/Times-Herald
More than 50 club supporters attended a rally at
the Vallejo waterfront, ready to protest the university's
apparent decision last week to drop support for the
University Gay-Straight Alliance. Instead, they learned
from two Vallejo City Council members that Touro
had issued an apology.
Councilmembers Stephanie Gomes and Gary Cloutier,
who is gay, wrote to the university Monday indicating
that without an apology, they were unlikely to support
future university projects requiring council approval.
Hours later, Provost
and Chief Executive Harvey Kaye sent the pair - and
the Times-Herald - a letter of explanation.
"In my capacity as ">provost,
I apologize on behalf of the university that this
controversy has arisen, and trust that my letter will
lay this matter to rest," Kaye wrote.
Kaye said a Touro
official who said the club was no longer supported
by the university was mistaken that the club was "deactivated."
Last week, Nathan Church, Touro
vice president for student affairs and dean of students,
told the Times-Herald the gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender lifestyle was against the Jewish university's
values. Church didn't immediately return calls for
At Monday's rally, students cheered and said they
were thrilled to hear the club hadn't been dropped.
Still, some were shocked about the whole matter.
"I'm sad and disappointed this happened," said student
Bryan Hopping, 30, a club spokesman.
Hopping told the group on the waterfront festival
green that his goal in the club is to enlighten people
about homosexuality. "I'm looking to change just one
person's mind," he said.
Students and faculty in hospital scrubs and white
lab coats wore rainbow ribbons and pink triangles
pinned to their shirts. Someone even brought a sign
saying "I support TUGSA."
"It just seems so
odd," said club member and first-year medical student
Gary Kirkilas, 26. He said it was surprising that
a Jewish university would take action against such
a club considering the "rich history of persecution"
First-year medical student Sarah Nangle said she
was inspired by the club. "I'm definitely going to
join it," Nangle, 31, said.
In a letter dated Monday to the dean of students,
Cloutier and Gomes indicated their displeasure with
last week's controversy.
"The fact that Touro
has elected to deny the gay student group recognition
under a publicly stated rationale that is transparently
discriminatory and based on a tired cliché will make
supporting future Touro
initiatives highly problematic," Cloutier and Gomes
The council is expected to discuss the development
of Mare Island's north end in coming weeks, Gomes
said. That includes a proposal from Touro
University, she said.
"I have a big problem working with a group of people
or organization that discriminates against anybody,"
Gomes said before the university provost
A few years ago, a New York college also withdrew
funding for a gay club but later changed its mind,
said Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay
& Lesbian Medical Association.
"We need to be vigilant, because this is not the
first time this has happened, and it won't be the
last," Ginsberg said at the rally.
E-mail Chris G. Denina at email@example.com
or call 553-6835.