Santa Clara University

“If Santa Clara taught us to simply memorize the words of the Church and the state legislature, its diploma would not be worth the paper it is printed on.”
Dan Sapone ’72, Pleasanton, Calif.
Santa Clara did its job

I was intrigued and surprised by Roy D. Vega’s letter to Santa Clara Magazine (Letters, Summer 2004) in which he expressed his disapproval of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s leadership on the same-sex marriage issue. He suggests that Newsom’s Santa Clara education should have taught him to simply follow the guidance of "traditional values and biblical and church teaching." My recollection, during the same era (1972), is of a Santa Clara education that stressed the value of compassionate leadership to navigate the conflicting and contradictory voices that exist in our society—from the Church, the state government, the U.S. Constitution, the community, and a reasoned understanding of God— as well as find a way to act with compassion and wisdom for the common good of individuals in our society. If Santa Clara taught us to simply memorize the words of the Church and the state legislature, its diploma would not be worth the paper it is printed on. Actively navigating the turbulent waters of secular society is among the founding purposes of Santa Clara University, and I am proud of what Mr. Newsom obviously carries with him from that experience. I wish him and SCU well and encourage them both to continue this difficult effort.
Dan Sapone ’72
Pleasanton, Calif.

Don’t forget the Constitution
Santa Clara Magazine Summer 2004
Summer 2004 issue 

As a fellow SCU alumnus and political scientist, I am saddened by Mr. Roy Vega’s strongly worded critique of Mayor Newsom. Specifically, Mr. Vega states that Newsom’s "defiance of" state law is an "abandonment of traditional values and Biblical and Church teachings," going so far as to call Newsom’s actions a debasement of our culture and a "decline of American civilization."

Our nation was built upon the foundation of religious freedom as articulated in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution. This clause states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Hence, while Mr. Vega is certainly entitled to freely state that Newsom’s actions are contra-biblical (a right also guaranteed by the First Amendment), his religious argument has no place in lawmaking. We are a nation of many religions, all of which must be respected. The way this is done according to the United States Supreme Court is by legislating in a religiously neutral manner. The real danger comes not from granting legal rights and obligations to committed couples, but in blurring the lines of church and state in a movement toward theocracy.

The underlying issue of same-sex marriage is one of equal protection. I applaud Newsom for having the courage to stand up against what is the greatest equal protection violation of my generation. To deny gays and lesbians the rights, obligations, and social legitimacy that marriage imbues based solely on their sexuality is akin to disallowing a person access to adequate public schooling based on skin color. Today, we herald those who had the courage to stand up against "separate but equal." Tomorrow, we will stand up in reverence of leaders like Newsom who had the courage to lead this fight. I am proud to call Gavin Newsom a Bronco.
Barrett H. Cohn J.D. ’01
(submitted through

Deviance is not a civil right

I read with disgust the "Bronco Profile" in the spring 2004 issue of Santa Clara Magazine that featured San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. It is disappointing that after his four-year Jesuit education at Santa Clara, Mr. Newsom does not have the critical thinking skills to understand the simple truth that sexual deviance is not a civil right. As for his Catholicism, he should be excommunicated.
Ann L. Vaccaro ’85
Orinda, Calif.

The cultural sky is not falling

It is with delight that I read that the mayor of San Francisco is an alumnus of Santa Clara and a fellow political science major. I graduated in l958 and have also read with interest a letter to the editor from Roy Vega ’68 invoking "traditional values" in a condemnation of Mayor Newsom’s administration of civil marriage procedures with same- sex couples.

The traditional values I learned in my political science classes at Santa Clara led me to praise the mayor for his courage in overcoming civic bigotry in allowing people to acquire the same rights endowed by government enjoyed by those of us in heterosexual marriages, nothing more and nothing less. Simply, equal treatment under the law.

The traditional values I learned in my theology and philosophy courses leads me to praise the mayor and challenge the twisted reference Mr. Vega makes regarding a "moral compass." That praise is based on Christian teaching that only Mr. Vega’s God sits in judgement of his fellow human beings, not Mr. Vega. I hardly think, as Mr. Vega suggests, that our culture is debased or civilization decline hastened by the union of some among us who profess a loving relationship and desire to act on that love. In fact, our civilization and political order is enhanced by any expression of love between people in a time devoid of love and filled with hate.
Stan Merriman ’58
(submitted through

Reflections on Gibson’s film seemed bitter 

This is a sad trio of reflections on one of the most moving movies of cinema history ("Passion-ate Perspectives on Mel Gibson’s Film," Web-exclusive at Much of Gibson’s script came from German mystic, Venerable Emmerich—a bed-ridden stigmatist. I will accept her visions of the Lord’s passion as infinitely more accurate than the three SCU professors. It appears they dislike Gibson’s influence on millions who have seen "The Film," since their narrow modernist views will only be read by a few and rejected by most as obviously bitter reflections.
Greg Watkins
(submitted through

The business of environmental design

The new Leavey School of Business complex looks beautiful (Page 20, Summer 2004). Though not mentioned, I would hope that it incorporates the latest in energy efficient technology.
Betty Neville Michelozzi ’68
(submitted through

Editor’s note: The business school expects to be one of the first business schools to be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; a designation by the U.S. Green Building Council). The buildings are being planned using LEED guidelines.

Rocketing toward a degree

Thank you so much for your informative article on the robotics programs at SCU ("The Launching Pad," Summer 2004). I have been receiving Santa Clara Magazine for more than 10 years, and have always skimmed it—but this article caught my interest. It also caught my husband’s interest. He has now applied to the SCU Master’s Program in Mechanical Engineering, focusing on robotics. We did not realize this program existed before we read your informative article.

Now, it looks like my husband will also be an SCU grad.
Judith Szepesi ’93, J.D. ’96
(submitted through

Hurtful speech has no place in the magazine web exclusive

I was very disappointed to see Santa Clara Magazine’s publication of the homophobic ranting of Roy Vega [Newsom must not have studies morality at SCU, Summer 2004] and two "Web-exclusive" letters.

It is one thing to publish thoughtful dialog on important issues such as whether or not one believes Mayor Newsom interpreted the State Statutes in accordance with the Constitution; it is quite another to publish tired and hurtful rhetoric that merely perpetuates the marginalization and dehumanization of gay and lesbian members of our community.

Having just recently attended a local gay and lesbian SCU alumni gathering—with around 50 attendees—I was delighted to hear of the progress Santa Clara University has made with respect to sexual orientation. I am confident that such improvement will continue and I am hopeful that the editors of Santa Clara Magazine will refrain from printing hateful and divisive speech in the future.
Corey A. Morris ’03
Graduate student, Harvard Medical School
(submitted through

Be color blind with first-generation students web exclusive

After reading "Blazing the Trail" in the Spring 2004 Issue of the Santa Clara Magazine, I was excited to hear about Professor Nichols’ (and others) efforts to bring forth awareness of first-generation students at Santa Clara University. However, I was disappointed that the article primarily focused on students of color, Hispanic or Asian descent. It mistakenly implies that those students are the only ones who are faced with such challenges. You neglected to mention (or photograph) students of first-generation European descent. I am a Santa Clara alumna and was a first-generation student of European descent (from the Azores Islands, Portugal). I, too, experienced the same struggles as those mentioned in the article and was the first person in my family to attend college as well as receive a degree. With the help of financial aid and working full-time, I was able to complete my undergraduate studies at Santa Clara in shortly more than three years. I took a full load of classes each summer and lived at home to achieve this accomplishment.

Sadly, I had to forfeit the dream of experiencing the "college dorm life," as I wasn’t given any other option at that time. I applaud Santa Clara’s efforts in trying to find and aid first-generation students, but let’s make sure it encompasses all first-generation students and not just those who are the "known minority."
Elsie (Freitas) Wolfe ’95
Pleasanton, Calif.

Are Jesuits too liberal? web exclusive

I am not surprised about the reaction to articles on the Iraqi war and Mayor Newsom’s politics. To all those respondents I would highly recommend by Raymond D. Aumack’s article "The Jesuits are Too Liberal" in America magazine’s May 24–31 issue. At least you are trying to be fair and balanced.
Joe Nichols (parent of Matt Nichols SCU ’00)
(submitted through

Keep church and state separate web exclusive

Judging from his letter in the Summer 2004 issue of Santa Clara Magazine, Roy Vega appears to be among an increasing minority of misguided Christians who feel that only heterosexual individuals are entitled to happiness and security with their chosen partner in life. His sentiments will fit comfortably in the giant historical landfill of irrelevance reserved for regressive ideas that only slightly delayed such other cultural breakthroughs as representative government and racial equality.

I am proud to have benefited from an education at the same institution that played a part in the development of Mayor Newsom’s forward-thinking policies. Separation of church and state is one of the most laudable principles espoused by our Constitution. Whether homosexuals should be afforded the right to form civil unions is a decision that must be left to the people and not guided by antiquated religious notions that lack any basis in social reality. The political process will see this issue to its conclusion, and I am confident that the result will differ greatly from that desired by tradition-obsessed zealots like Mr. Vega.
Drew Ullrich ’96
South Plainfield, New Jersey

Reserve judgement for private debate web exclusive

I just received my Summer 2004 issue of the Santa Clara Magazine.  I usually really enjoy the articles and letters. I was very disappointed to read the letter from Mr. Vega ’68, judging San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  

I do understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I also feel that judgement so harsh as that stated by Mr. Vega should be reserved for private debate. I was never informed that God had passed judgement so clearly as the writer of this letter and I certainly can’t believe that God’s love should be conditional.

Although I now reside in a more northerly state, I was raised and educated at SCU. I trust that most students in 2004 are learning that diversity is more important than the "right" to always be right.
Suzanne M. Potter M.A. ’85
Aberdeen, Wash.
(submitted through

Are "traditional values" any better? web exclusive

In his letter to the editor, Mr. Roy D. Vega exhibits a failure in SCU’s educational system to teach broad-mindedness and emphasize the importance of equal rights, especially in a democratic society. Mr. Vega accuses fellow political scientist Gavin Newsom of "debauchery" because as San Francisco mayor he chose to highlight an inequity between American citizens—that of same-sex committed couples being unable to obtain the hundreds of legal rights afforded married heterosexual couples.

I hope the majority of your readers recognize that Mr. Vega has himself "debauched" Christianity with this view, by reducing the value or quality of Christ’s teachings. And if he’s worried about the "decline of American civilization" he should perhaps examine why there’s a 57 percent divorce rate among heterosexuals—something is not working in his world of "traditional values." I suggest that Mr. Vega recalibrate his own moral compass by practicing a little more compassion and not feeling so threatened by those seeking equal rights.
Janice V. Dabney ’73
Mountain View

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