BREAKING: Trinity University Postpones Spring Semester Until Jan. 31, 2022

While enjoying their winter break, Trinity University students received an email this morning notifying them of the new plan for returning to campus for the spring semester, which was scheduled to begin on Jan. 12, 2022. As of this morning at 11:16 am, Wed. Dec. 29, the spring semester will not begin until Jan. 31, 2022. 

In an email from Tess Coody-Anders, the Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, students learned that the decision was made due to the “dramatic increase” of positive COVID-19 cases in the Trinity community. Throughout the winter break, students have been responsible for self-reporting any positive COVID-19 diagnoses or any close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Trinity’s Nerve Center has taken these numbers into consideration when making this decision in an attempt to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. 

One of the concerns of the university is how contagious the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be. If the virus spreads quickly among students, faculty, and staff on-campus, the university is concerned that it will be overwhelmed and not able to properly accommodate individuals who must quarantine on-campus for their own safety or the safety of their families or roommates. 

When asked to comment, Coody-Anders said that the academic calendar for the Spring 2022 semester is being adjusted and that faculty will adjust their syllabi accordingly. Students’ spring break will not be changed, postponed, or canceled. The decision to start the semester should not interfere with athletic events or activities, and the university is doing all that it can to protect students, faculty, and staff from COVID-19.

Article updated 12/20/2021 to include comments from Tess Coody-Anders, VP for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University.

Trinity Wants to Have Its Cake and Eat It Too

The administration at Trinity University has made it clear that it wants to put temporary safety over the eternal liberty and trust of its faculty, students, and staff. It will charge students the full price of tuition to attend a limited university. Trinity claims to offer one of the highest quality educations in the United States, but it is not allowing students and staff the ability to take full advantage of that high-quality education.

Over these past two weeks, the administration of Trinity University has sent out two emails to all students outlining the new COVID-19 restrictions that will be on campus, despite giving the impression in the Spring Semester that there would not be a return to COVID-19 restrictions in the Fall. These new restrictions include an indoor mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status, a maximum of 4 persons in a residence hall room (with masks), no outside group or visitors to campus, limits on event sizes, and a requirement of Trinity’s version of a COVID-19 green pass to access campus.

There needs to be mass civil disobedience and non-compliance over these new regulations.

Nathan Darsch, Class of 2022

Trinity stated that some of these policies would be re-evaluated come mid-September, but that only leaves open the possibility for even stricter regulations.

The problem is not just what Trinity will do but also what Trinity has failed to do. It did not even consider getting feedback from the student body on what COVID-19 measures, if any, should be implemented. I know as a club president that I was never consulted over this past summer on what the university needs to do to make sure their student organizations remain active. 

How many student organizations have effectively died because they were unable to meaningfully recruit new members, because they were unable to host events, because they were unable to maintain interest and required membership numbers? My student organization was lucky to have enough members to survive and get through the past year, but I know others cannot say the same.

The university has also not given students any information on how it is expanded its health services–if it has expanded at all. Many students need additional support, especially in the form of counseling, during this time.  How many students now suffer from chronic depression and anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because of the university’s draconian lockdown measures over the previous year? How many students lost their scholarships because they were unable to maintain the GPA needed because of their worsening mental health?

Trinity is once again going down the road that will kill its student body’s spirit and sense of community.

Trinity says it is following CDC guidance and “trusting the science,” but how can we fully trust the guidance given when the chief people in charge of it have either undermined the very science they now promote or have flip-flopped on too many issues to keep track of? Trinity needs to trust its students to be mindful of their own health, not health and policy experts that have shown they are willing to lie to the American people. 

Trinity University has already reached effective herd immunity, in part due to its strong “recommendations” to students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the American Lung Association, 70-90% of a population needs to have some form of immunity for herd immunity to be reached. Trinity University is currently 91% vaccinated (as of the last update on August 9), and at least 81% of the San Antonio adult population has had at least one dose (as of the last update on August 4). When combined with natural immunity, Trinity University and San Antonio have effective herd immunity or will have it very soon.

I am very thankful for the student body’s work to vaccinate themselves, especially those with risk factors, but we need to recognize when enough is enough. There needs to be mass civil disobedience and non-compliance over these new regulations. If we roll over and allow the university to take these measures freely, it signals that they can continue to make restrictions with impunity. We are a young and healthy student body, and it is time we start acting like it instead of allowing our lives to be dictated by fear.

Trinity University Reinstates Masks and Other COVID-19 Safety Procedures

Article updated on 8/5/2021 at 10:45pm CT. We included new information from an email sent to students earlier this morning.

Trinity University detailed its COVID-19 safety measures for the upcoming semester in an email sent to all students on July 30. While over 80% of students and faculty will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the semester and had few COVID-19 cases during the spring semester in 2021, Trinity University decided to impose further restrictions on students, faculty, and staff. These new restrictions are due to the impact of the Delta variant and for Trinity “to promote a healthy and safe semester as we return to in-person learning and living.”

New restrictions include: 

  • the wearing of “well-fitting masks… by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings at all times” and the wearing of masks outside if one finds himself in a setting in which he is in a crowded space or cannot social distance
  • The testing of all students and staff regardless of vaccination status upon returning to campus
  • Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students and staff
  • A green badge from the ProtecTU Daily Health Check for all students, faculty, and staff for entry into public spaces or classrooms
  • Completion of the vaccination status form to be let onto campus and register for classes

Trinity stated in the email that it would re-evaluate these protocols come mid-September, but the university left the possibility of stricter protocols open. This may only be the beginning of stricter COVID-19 regulations due to the Delta variant.

Tess Coody-Anders, VP For Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, informed The Tower that the university currently stands at an 86% vaccination rate that continues to climb. However, these vaccinations do not entirely protect them from getting infected and carrying the “same viral load as unvaccinated persons.”

When asked about whose guidance they are following for these protocols and if they are imposing a mask mandate, Coody-Anders said that Trinity “will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and return to universal mask wearing for all” and that after a few weeks of testing unvaccinated individuals they will “re-evaluate the need for the vaccinated to wear masks.” Trinity University will also be checking statements and figures provided by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to understand better how COVID-19 is affecting San Antonio.

Coody-Anders also informed The Tower that Trinity University is “fully committed to providing students in-person learning” but did not say whether or not the university is planning on potentially going partially or fully online again this semester.

However, Coody-Anders was unable to answer many, perhaps just as important, questions at this time. Of the questions asked, she did not provide answers to the following questions: 

  • If the university has expanded mental health services to accommodate students struggling due to the impact of COVID-19
  • If the university received feedback from students before finalizing the COVID-19 safety procedures
  • Whether students can have off-campus guests in their dorm rooms
  • Whether students can have guests who live in other residence halls in their dorm rooms (this was forbidden in Fall 2020 and for the beginning of Spring 2021)
  • Under what circumstances the university will remove the mask mandate
  • Whether students are able to report one another for not following these rules, as they did during the last school year
  • Why Trinity requires students to report their vaccine status if the vaccine is not required
  • What will happen to professors who do not enforce or check whether or not their students completed the Daily Health Check and got a green badge
  • What will happen to students if they are unable to display a green badge due to not having an electronic device on their person
  • Whether Trinity University believes these new rules are an infringement on the liberties of students, staff, and faculty?

Trinity University and Coody-Anders did try to make it clear that the administration at Trinity does care about its students and wants them to have as close to a normal semester as possible. However, the university has created many unanswered questions, and students are looking for answers that the university can not give at this time.

Update 8/5/2021: Trinity University sent a follow-up email to students on Aug. 5 to clarify some of the new COVID-19 procedures. The email stated that on-campus meetings will be limited to 50 persons for indoor settings and 250 for outdoor events. Off-campus guests and visitors will not be allowed on campus. Furthermore, residence hall dorm rooms will be restricted to 4 people maximum, and masks must be worn while guests are over. They reiterated that these rules will be reconsidered in mid-September.

Trinity University Threatens to Suspend Students Who Don’t Social Distance

On Thursday, the 13th, at approximately 4 in the afternoon, Dean of Students, David Tuttle, sent out an email that caused concern amongst many in the student body. Dean Tuttle informed the student population, especially those living on/near campus, how some of Trinity’s new health guidelines will affect the student body.

    The email starts innocently enough with Tuttle reiterating some of the general guidelines such as the TU Health Pledge, who is responsible for enforcing these guidelines, and where to find general procedures and policies. But in this first section, Tuttle also mentions a new way for students to report each other if they are violating the guidelines. The COVID Violation Report will allow students to report other students to the administration anonymously about any “persistent or egregious violations of the policy.” A system that will enable students to snitch on their fellow students, whether genuine or not, would be bad enough, but the system would also make it so the accused would not even be able to know who their accuser is. In an environment of rampant cancel culture, it is more important than ever to allow students not only to know who their accuser is but also to be innocent until proven guilty. The email only gets worse for students and organizations from here. 

    For those in the residence halls and in City Vista, Trinity is installing draconian policies in an effort “to limit exposure.” Students will only be able to “have one guest at a time per room… [and] only guests from the same residence hall are permitted.” In City Vista, it is one guest per apartment unit, and “only guests from within City Vista are permitted.” Trinity is actively telling its students that they are not allowed to hang out with the friends they make outside of their residence halls (where most of their friends would typically come from), and they must have minimal interaction with other students, whom Trinity is inviting back onto campus. 

    Trinity is also applying these very same rules to those having to lease an apartment off-campus, telling them that they must “avoid gatherings that pose a risk” and that the only gatherings permitted are those with the “same guests or house/apartment residents.” This isolation will only make the rates of depression and anxiety plaguing college-age students worse. Depression and anxiety rates in the US have already increased with people being near family, but once students go to Trinity, they will have even less social and physical interaction with those around them. First-year students who have known nothing except living with their family will now be thrust into a world where they will feel the most alone and during one of the most vulnerable periods of their lives. 

    But to make it even worse, Tuttle also states what kind of sanctions there will be for those found in violation of these policies. Students can expect 1 of 3 general punishments: “removal from the residence halls… barring from campus… [and/or] immediate suspension from the university for a minimum for one semester.” A system that will end up punishing students (possibly kicking them off campus) for the egregious crime of wanting to be with their friends. 

    When pressed as to how these new guidelines will affect struggling student organizations on campus, Trinity provided no comment. With this in mind, only the worst can be assumed with the nature of this email. Such an email has sent a message to the students and the student organizations that there will be no social life on campus. Clubs that rely on human interaction to keep members engaged will no longer be able to provide the services they offered to the campus community. These guidelines are telling the Trinity community that they are sacrificing the reason students feel happy and loved at Trinity in order for them to “learn” at Trinity.

    But the worst offense of all would have to be against those living off-campus. With school only a few days away, many students already have leases and are preparing to move or have already moved into their new apartments. With these rule changes, students who would have usually stayed home under the current guidelines are now stuck with having to live with them. Trinity could have announced guidelines such as these months ago and possibly loosened them as time went on, but no, they wanted until the very last minute when many had no other choice but to live with it. Trinity University created stricter guidelines even though San Antonio is no longer the hot spot it once was back in the spring and has flattened the curve enough so that daily new case averages continue to go down.

When pressed for comment and clarification on how these policies will be applied in specific scenarios, Trinity University also provided no comment. Examples included: attending off-campus religious services, attending off-campus social events, giving another student a ride, how will these guidelines affect Greek Life, etc.

It appears to the Trinity University administration, the only way to ensure a “successful” semester is to kill the social life on and around campus and to enforce this through highly authoritarian means. Even going so far as to encourage students to report those they ordinarily would have become friends with. There is still no mention of what will happen if students refuse to report each other, but one thing is for certain, Orwell must be rolling over in his grave.

Breaking: Trinity Shuts Down in Face of Coronavirus

Trinity University administration announced that “all classes will be canceled March 16-20” and that beginning March 23 “the University will transition to synchronous remote teaching online.”

BREAKING NEWS

In an email sent out to students, parents, and staff on Wednesday, Trinity University administration announced that “all classes will be canceled March 16-20” and that beginning March 23 “the University will transition to synchronous remote teaching online.”

This comes after several weeks’ worth of news about the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States. 

Currently, all known cases of coronavirus in San Antonio are being held in quarantine at Lackland Airforce Base and there are no known cases of Trinity students being infected.

“This decision was not made lightly,” University President Danny Anderson explained in the email. “Making this decision now will provide the most orderly transition and protect our Trinity family from potential exposure to the virus.”

He explained further that since many students have traveled internationally during Spring Break, “social distancing” seems to be the best strategy for campus safety. “Experts tell us that this illness has the potential to spread quickly, and social distancing appears to be one of the most effective ways to slow the virus’s advance,” Anderson said.

Over the coming weeks, students will be allowed to return to their dorms to collect their belongings before heading home. However, if one is unable to go back home, exemptions can be made.

We will continue to update as more information becomes available.

After Forum, Weight Given to Race in Trinity Admissions Still Unclear

Students of all persuasions left Tuesday’s town hall with vague answers to hard questions.

The admissions office at Trinity is located in Northrup Hall.

On Tuesday, February 4, the Trinity University Admissions Staff hosted an open forum about race and diversity in the admissions process. The staff present were Vice President for Enrollment Management Eric Maloof, Dean of Admissions Justin Doty, Associate Director of Admissions Jeremy Boyce, and Assistant Director of Admissions Michaela Knipp. The forum was open to the public for students and other faculty and staff. All four admissions staff members described their vision for a diverse student body as well as some shortcomings of the admissions committee. At the end, there was a twenty minute Q&A session with some students and faculty members.

Maloof opened with some statistics on Trinity admissions, stating that 65% of the applicants for this admission year were nonwhite, and 48% of students admitted to the class of 2023 were nonwhite. He stated that although Trinity is not a diverse university overall when compared to every school in the country, it is a diverse school for its size and category.

“We do not admit students solely on race,” Knipp added.

Maloof stressed the importance of having racial and ethnic diversity at Trinity. “We do take race into account when we admit students here,” Maloof said. He hopes that the numbers of nonwhite students will continue to climb in the future. 

Boyce stressed the importance of reaching out to people with diverse backgrounds, but also discussed the value of diversity itself. “We look at a variety of very different backgrounds when admitting students. Race is not the only aspect of diversity that we look at. There are some people who are not black or brown that can be more diverse.” 

During the Q&A session, one student asked what aspect of diversity is most important when the Admissions Committee comes across students with very similar academic criteria. Doty deflected, saying this was a hard question to answer and that the admissions process is so individual. 

“We do take race into account when we admit students here,” Maloof said.

“We can’t say one thing completely overrides another. We look at everything: hometown, high school activities, and their essay response,” Doty said.

Maloof asked the student if she was essentially asking “what race holds the most weight?” He responded saying that it is an advantage to be a certain race at Trinity and at other schools it is a disadvantage for that race. 

“For instance, it is an advantage to be Asian-American at Trinity because they are a low population group here, while at schools where they are overrepresented, it is a disadvantage,” Maloof said. “We will never admit someone who we think can’t do the work here.” 

“We do not admit students solely on race,” Knipp added.

Socialist Club Founded at Trinity

The Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter wants to build a “socialist world and a democratic socialist future.”

Last year, Gallup poll released a survey showing that “43% of Americans say socialism would be a good thing for the country.” Now, that figure has spread to Trinity University. 

On Monday, Jan 27, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) club held their first meeting in the Storch Memorial building. In total, about 33 students—some who openly claimed to be communists—attended the meeting.

In flyers handed out during spring Club Rush, YDSA Trinity states that they are “training a new generation of socialist leaders” to build a “better, socialist world… [and] a democratic socialist future.”

Victoria Henretty, co-chair of YDSA Trinity, said she wanted to start the club after going to meetings for YDSA at UTSA. “I became super interested… [and heard] that people at Trinity were trying to start it but were graduating or had lack of motivation,” Henretty said. “I wanted to see more action on campus. I thought TProg (Trinity Progressives) wasn’t as involved as I wanted them to be and too broad to my taste.”

However, Henretty also stated that YDSA Trinity “is very open to working with a lot with student groups” and allowing TProg to handle electoral activism on campus while they handle more social activism.

In terms of goals and action that YDSA wants to take, Henretty said they want to start a divestment campaign. “We want Trinity to stop taking investment money from oil and gas,” she said. YDSA also plans to focus on activism regarding prison abolishment with respects to Aramark, ecosocialism and pushing for more health and mental care resources on campus.

At the moment, it’s unknown how the introduction of YDSA will impact political culture and activism at Trinity University but it does look like leftism is here to stay at Trinity with a newly found voice.

Too Much Hot Air at Trinity’s Climate Teach-In

Climate change is likely the most prominent global issue today, and Trinity University tried to play its part by participating in the Global Climate Strike on Friday. In what was meant to be a walkout from classes, students and faculty gathered in the Coates Student Center for a two-hour “teach-in” about the state of the climate. Professors and students presented their perspectives on the issue through lectures, poems, songs, visual art, and yelling.

The event began with physics professor Niescja Turner, who spoke about the greenhouse effect. She emphasized that this effect is a good thing, but the recent introduction of too much CO2 into the atmosphere creates too much of this good thing. The climate takes a long time to change, but the amount of CO2 is increasing too rapidly. Next, geosciences professor Glenn Kroeger spoke on the historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. It has been fluctuating for as long as measurement tools can take us, but it has never been above 400 ppm (0.04% of the atmosphere) as it is now. His thesis was similar to Dr Turner’s: we should be wary of how we are treating the atmosphere. 

These professors provided sound, reasonable and convincing evidence for the warming earth. They both condemned climate fear-mongering and extreme solutions. It would be hard for anyone to disagree with their data-based points. But, of course, there are two sides to every issue. In this case, there are those who make arguments that are valid and sound, and they strive for genuine conversation for the other side.

Then, there are the unreasonables, whose yelling only serves to preach to the choir and confirm their insanity to their opponents. These unreasonables proposed no solutions other than sorrow and anger for their situation.

A recent Trinity graduate and representative from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) followed the science professors. This speaker diverged as far from science as possible, screaming about how climate change was tightly linked to capitalism and other institutions such as racism, sexism, ableism, and “speciesism.” In a perfect caricature moment, she told us in curse-laced language how she was “angry all the time,” then inviting us to feel angry and upset and anxious along with her–because, if you feel okay, you’re part of the problem. She directly called for an end to capitalism, which led to an unsettling swell of cheers throughout the room.

Crowd gathered at the Climate Teach-In in Coates Student Center.

The complete lack of awareness shown by most participants was the sharpest bit of irony at the event. The building was well-lit and air-conditioned. Every person present was handed a freshly printed sheet of paper with the lyrics to a song we sang. After the teach-in, many attendees planned on driving several cars less than three miles downtown for a citywide strike, where they likely generated loads of garbage in discarded signs. They want to limit every aspect of life, yet they refuse to change some of the most basic elements of their lives for their own cause.

Anger isn’t going to solve any problems. If everyone who spoke about climate change would do so with the same tone and reason as the science professors, perhaps more people could get on board with practical steps toward compromise. Sadly, it seems most students believe that the best solution is to become upset about everything and hope someone notices. It is simply not possible to get things done for the climate if you believe the issue of climate change must be solved in conjunction with every other so-called issue that exists.

Kroeger illustrated how seemingly utopian ideas can be impractical. Proponents of the Green New Deal, for example, plan to replace all fossil fuel-burning cars in ten years. He explained that the most fuel-efficient vehicle you could drive is a bicycle, with the second-most fuel efficient being the vehicle you drive now. While electric cars are more fuel efficient once they’re on the road, their production still generates lots of carbon, meaning it would take a long, long time to break even with regular fossil fuel models. On top of that, the earth does not even hold enough of the minerals needed to produce these electric cars.

The left has made climate change too polarizing. The more we hear about how the government plans on limiting the amount of beef we can eat and how much we can water our grass, the more regular people will stubbornly oppose any change. It is not unreasonable to fear the removal of basic rights. During this teach-in, we were told that “fashion kills,” and that as part of curbing climate change, we should never buy new clothes again. We were also told not to have kids, and that “reproductive justice has to be a part of climate justice.” It sounds like people on the left are willing to take away whatever they need in order to solve a problem many cannot even properly define.

As long as we speak practically, we will uncover more middle ground than we think. So many people cannot see past their own noses, refusing to see better ideas before them. People are so rushed to “solve” the climate crisis, but the science professors made it pretty clear that we need to take our time on these things. The idea that the world will end in twelve years is simply untrue—as it has been every decade since alarmists first started spouting it. All reason and sense has gone out the window in favor of outrage and complete absurdity. From the supporting cheers that the speakers received, it seems clear that climate extremism is no longer a strictly far-left issue, and that young people have blindly bought into environmentalist propaganda. It is truly upsetting that Trinity has legitimized this sort of nonsense.

All images by Samantha Farnsworth.

Smoke Bomb Forces UT-YCT Chapter to Relocate Event

On April 29 the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) held an event which was disrupted by an unknown person who set off a smoke bomb outside of the lecture hall and forced an evacuation of the building after someone pulled the fire alarm. This event featured Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation and pro-life “factivist”, who was to discuss the sanctity of life. No one was hurt and the lecture was able to continue after being moved to another space.

The incoming vice-chair for Young Conservatives of Texas at UT, Jordan Clements, said this wasn’t the first time they brought Bomberger to campus and that there were no protesters at the event. “Some of the flyers for this event, which had a pic of Bomberger with the text ‘Should Have Been Aborted’ and event details were missing,” Clements said.

UT-YCT students claimed they weren’t at all surprised by the smoke bomb. “While this particular incident had never occurred before, I knew of similar instances occurring at other universities,” Clements said. “This coward did this because he can’t handle the truth.”

“They know that they can’t win on facts so they use intimidation instead,” Clements said.

Homer Trevino, another UT-YCT student who attended the event, had a similar reaction to the smoke bomb.

“I thought it was just another stunt pulled by the left to try to silence speech they do not agree with… Luckily nobody got hurt,” Trevino said. “But what if they had? What if they had done something more extreme?”

In an email sent out by the school, UT labeled the incident “criminal mischief” and gave a brief summary of what happened. “How is endangering people’s lives mischief?” Trevino said.

“I can’t help but feel the administration would only give the perpetrator a slap on the wrist and give them a warning, as opposed to a whole lot of trouble, had they disrupted a leftist event,” Clements said.

A criminal investigation is currently underway and the school and police recommend that anyone with information that can help the investigation please step forward. This story may be updated as new information becomes available.

Images courtesy of Young Conservatives of Texas at University of Texas.

Religion, Noise, and Dr. Seuss

On Tuesday, March 26, Dr. Isaac Weiner gave a lecture “When Religion Becomes Noise” at Trinity University. Dr. Weiner has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and currently serves as a faculty member in the department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University.

Weiner’s lecture discussed religious pluralism in the U.S. and the way that public religious sounds, such as Christian church bells or the Islamic call to prayer, complicate the issue. He explained that sounds are more invasive than sights, and are more likely to be the cause of complaint.

This begs the questions: Which sounds get classified as merely “noise” and which sounds are tolerated on the basis of religious freedom? Which sounds are “out of place” and which sounds belong in the public sphere? How do religions coexist? How are Americans inclusive without becoming oppressive?

“I want people to think about the relationship between our public culture and our assumptions about the kind of society we want to build,” said Weiner. “What we’re willing to tolerate in public says something about what we aspire to be as a society.”

According to Weiner, only the sounds of the majority typically prevail. The majority has the ability to reclassify their sounds as secular in order to justify their presence. For example, a church’s bells are not a call to the service, but a secular marking of time; Christmas is not a religious celebration, but rather a national holiday.

Weiner referred to a well-known children’s book, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to illustrate his point. The Grinch’s heart grows three sizes after the Whos are unaffected by his attempts to ruin Christmas, and he joins in with the Whoville caroling. Weiner asked attendees to imagine a more sinister reading of the story, in which the Whos’ singing is forced upon the Grinch, a minority, who is then forced to assimilate to their attitudes and join in their sound. As it turns out, this is the reality of religious pluralism in the U.S. today.

Weiner presented several historical examples of regulation or repression of religious sounds, including St. Mark’s church bells in 1870s Philadelphia, Jehovah’s Witness sound cars in 1946, and the Islah Islamic Center’s call to prayer in Hamtramck, MI in 2004.

Each of these case studies is heavily discussed in Weiner’s book, Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism. In each case, the sound is treated differently depending on the majority opinion and tradition.

For example, in Hamtramck, MI, many claimed the Islamic call to prayer was “out of place” in the historically Polish Catholic city where church bells were practically a part of the landscape. In one sweep, people could suffocate the sounds they didn’t want to hear and replace them with ones they did. In cases like this, the minority finds itself unable to make sound and instead forced to join in with the noise of the majority, as the Grinch does with the Whos’ caroling in Dr. Seuss’s story.

“As we negotiate what it means to live in a religiously diverse society,” said Weiner, “we must continue to work toward the full inclusion of all religious communities in our public and civic life.”

The public sphere should be a place for the freedom of religious expression, including religious sound. Oppression of minority expression is not an option for Americans who wish to build a better and more virtuous society.

The lecture was sponsored by the Trinity University Humanities Collective as part of their current focus on the First Amendment, particularly the freedom of religion clause. On April 8 at 5:30pm in Chapman Auditorium, Trinity University will host another religion scholar, Dr. Nicola Denzey Lewis from Claremont Graduate University, to speak on lost ancient Christian documents from Egypt.

Photo by Kathleen Arbogast.