Editorial opinion

Moral decision


WHAT HAS TO be one of the most curious and amazing investigations ever held at this University has yet to reach a conclusion. A panel of six college deans is “debating the morality” of a student before he is allowed to obtain teaching certification.

What is the heinous crime for which Joseph Acanfora must pay this price? Murder, robbery, forgery perhaps? The protracted debate might be reasonable if he were accused of one of those. But his “crime” was much different.

Acanfora’s troubles began when he became a member of the Homophiles of Penn State, a group with a controversy all its own. HOPS, an educational group concerned with ending stereotypes and misconceptions about homosexuality, has been battling for over a year to gain recognition as an official student organization. Although granted such a charter by the Undergraduate Student Government, the University stepped in to bar the use of University facilities to the group.

THE UNIVERSITY could not stop Acanfora from graduating, which he did last week after compiling a reasonably high cumulative average. But it can prevent him from receiving Pennsylvania teaching certification. Unless the deans rule him “moral enough” that is exactly what will happen. Then, his only recourse will be through the courts, which he has said he will do if necessary.

The whole story is reminiscent of “Alice’s Restaurant,” in which Arlo Guthrie’s morality is discussed when draft board officials discover he has a record of prior arrest -- for littering.

“You mean you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after being a litterbug?” asks Arlo. Joe Acanfora can certainly ask a similar question.

Even if the deans do approve of Acanfora’s “morality,” a great deal of damage has been done. With this case hanging over his head, there is no way he can look for a job. If the deans rule favorably, he will have to look for the jobs that are left: in a job market that is notoriously low in openings for education majors.

The battle over his association with HOPS would have caused him enough trouble in job-hunting; to add a certification problem to that one is only rubbing salt in the wounds.

WE HOPE THE deans make a moral decision of their own and do it quickly. Joe Acanfora deserves to be allowed to teach in this state, without further harassment from the University or from anyone else.