A recommendation: certify Acanfora
Summer in Centre County is said to be a time when unsettling issues of past months seem remotely irrelevant. Perhaps this is so. Yet it is during this season of supposed indifference that Penn State leaders make some of their more controversial decisions. In June of 1971, Dr. Wells Keddie was denied tenure. On Sept. 1.,1971, Homophiles of Penn State’s charter was revoked. And this summer, after months of postponement, a student’s morality is to be determined.
Joseph Acanfora, a member of H.O.P.S., a plaintiff in the H.O.P.S. suit against the University, and a graduate from the, College of Education, has not yet been recommended by Penn State for certification to teach in the Commonwealth because, according to Dean VanderMeer of the College of Education, there is some question about Acanfora’s morality. VanderMeer questions a person’s morality when his alleged behavior deviates markedly from the norm.
So, despite the facts that Acanfora’s student teaching was rated “good” by the University, that most of his students called his classroom performance “very good” or “excellent,” that he has not been accused of violating any laws, and that he has received the vocal and written support of hundreds of area people, Vandermeer will not attest to Acanfora’s moral character.
I now raise several unanswered issues. First, must a man be prepared to abandon his guaranteed Constitutional rights (specifically the rights of association and free access to the courts) in order to teach in Pennsylvania?
Second, why do the deans ask Acanfora to defend his morality instead of presenting the man with specific, conclusive proof of his immorality?
Third, since the deans do not define morality, how is it then that they can declare a person immoral?
Finally, is it now the standard procedure for the College of Education to question every student’s morality on the basis of State laws regarding sexual behavior? If so, a warning goes out to all the criminals among us who practice intimate human relationships enjoined by code and ordinance.
As a very concerned alumnus of this University, I strongly urge the deans to recommend Acanfora for certification. Do not pander to the worst instincts of the bigots and uneducated among us. Do not try to strike down free choice, responsible change, and a man who dares to live and love.
DENNIS J. MILLER