Going to Court



AFTER MONTHS of behind-the-scenes legal activity, the Homophiles of Penn State finally announced Saturday it has filed suit against the University. If justice is to be done, it is difficult to see how HOPS can lose its case.


HOPS is seeking recognition as a chartered student body, a right it was granted last March by the Undergraduate Student Government but later denied by University officials, particularly Vice President for Student Affairs Raymond O. Murphy.

In a letter to HOPS President Diane Whitney, Murphy said in September that USG’s grant of a charter had been overruled because chartering “would create a substantial conflict with the counseling and psychiatric services the University provides to its students.

“AS A MATTER of educational policy, the University cannot condone or officially sanction any organization whose stated purposes would create such a conflict in this sensitive problem area,” Murphy said.

Murphy is right that HOPS is in conflict with the counseling services of the University. But even accepting his absurd argument that this is not tolerable, the situation might better prompt a review of the logic behind those counseling and psychiatric services, rather than a denial of a charter to HOPS.

The members of HOPS contend that the University has violated their First Amendment right to speak and educate on campus and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law. They say the University has no right to deny their charter unless the organization will engage in illegal acts or destructive acts against the University.

THE OBJECTIVES of HOPS are not destructive or illegal; in fact, they are a great deal more constructive than the University’s regulations, which are based only on past prejudices.

HOPS aims to aid the homosexual in his or her sexual orientation, to promote harmony and understanding between homosexuals and the community, to encourage members to seek reform of statutes concerning homosexual behavior and to provide opportunities for social interaction among homosexuals as permissible under existing state laws.

HOPS, HAVING moved into the courts, has moved out of the University’s sphere of influence. There is every cause for optimism, because the University has carried its worn-out prejudices as far as they can go.