Hello readers! On Wednesday, November 15th from 2-3:30 in Palisano Pavilion my fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, will be hosting our first ever AKPie event! In this you will be able to pie popular professors and staff members to raise money for charity! In addition we will be selling slices of delicious homemade pie for $1, and hot chocolate and pumpkin spice lattes for only $2. To pie a professor it will cost 3$ and for $5 you will get three chances. During this time we will also be selling slices of pie outside of the library. This is a great chance to relieve some stress, maybe get a little revenge on a professor, and each some fall treats. We hope to see you all there.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”
This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.
The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.
If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:
- Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
- Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
- Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
- Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
- The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
For the hardworking employees of FedEx, UPS, DHL, TNT Express, etc., there is no such thing as a holiday vacation. While many US families take several days to weeks away from the office/school to build gingerbread houses, go skiing, and put up the Christmas tree, delivery men and women strap on their winter boots and head to the trucks.
There seems to be a sort of luxury to holiday gift shopping the 21st Century - we simply search what we're looking for, click 'purchase', and wait for the item to arrive at our doorstep in 5 to 7 business days. If we're really in a pinch, we can opt for "express shipping" which delivers your package THE VERY NEXT DAY for an extra fee. However, because of these conveniences and advancements in modern-day society, deliverymen are suffering during the holiday season. In 2017, UPS drivers had been asked "to work 70 hours over an eight-day period" just to keep up with the rapid influx of packages and letters. Shockingly, this increase in overtime could not cover the number of parcels needing to be delivered (even with the extra employees they hire during the holidays), so office workers were required to do some delivery.
UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said "several hundred" office employees have been assigned to various operations roles, from sorting packages to assisting drivers as seasonal helpers, over the last few weeks.
Accountants, marketing assistants, and custodial staff were left to use their personal vehicles to deliver packages, often being asked to "change clothes and go to a local site that day or the next day" for fear of being recognized. Additionally, to compensate for a large number of packages on daily routes, UPS drivers had no choice but to work during their break-times. This forced many employees to drive hungry, exhausted, and in pain from a lack of bathroom breaks. Some employees even admitted to carrying empty water bottles in the trucks so that they could relieve themselves without having to venture off route and decrease productivity. One FedEx employee described his daily tasks as exhausting in quoting, "My body is completely destroyed. I am so afraid of getting injured and not being able to work."
Trust me, I know that online shopping is a gift sent from the gods - it's often cheaper, easier, and quicker than going to the mall. It also provides an abundance of job opportunities across America, employing 374,000 workers in just UPS alone. Thus, I am not encouraging you to cut back on your holiday purchases, but instead, show a little respect and kindness towards your local delivery person. They have families and presents and decorations to worry about, too. But most importantly, they're human. Whether your parcel arrives a day late, your delivery comes slightly damaged, or the item you had ordered wasn't what you expected it to be, do not take your frustration out on the drivers. Perhaps, spread some holiday cheer by keeping your rabid dog inside when the truck pulls in front of your house (lol), greeting your deliveryman with a smile, or by offering some treats to get them through their day.