TAMPA, Fla.: Students walk out on right-wing author

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to pay her [Ann Coulter, author of ‘Godless: The Church of Liberalism’] that much to come and spew hatred and ignorance,” said Allison Rhodes, a senior at South Florida University.

Rhodes led a walkout of over 150 students during Coulter’s Oct. 19 lecture here. The lecture was paid for by taking $35,275 out of the student activities fund.

Rhodes does not object to having conservative speakers brought to campus, she said. But she and others were expressing concern over Coulter’s stock-in-trade bigotry and her extreme right-wing views.

Protesting students, all wearing red T-shirts, waved peace signs as they exited the lecture in protest. Outside the auditorium, other demonstrators demanded an end to the Iraq war and justice for Wal-Mart workers.

The crowd attending the lecture included several hundred non-students, some of whom described themselves as “Coulter groupies.”

BALTIMORE: Civil rights group wants equal school funding

With the cost of college education skyrocketing, the Maryland Coalition for Equity and Excellence in High Education is suing Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) and Higher Education Secretary Calvin Burnett for failing to adequately fund the state’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU).

The suit charges that the state failed to implement desegregation, including equal funding, outlined in the U.S. Supreme Court decision U.S. v. Fordice. The intent of the decision is to bring HBCUs on par with predominantly white universities.

“The coalition enthusiastically embraces this action to resolve the matter of the lack of parity and equity between historically Black colleges and universities and traditionally white institutions and is resolved in making this a launching pad for a national discussion,” said coalition President David Burton. “Previous actions to address this matter did not result in responsive action that satisfied our understanding of current law; therefore a lawsuit is in order.”

Action by the state’s Commission on Higher Education was the straw that broke the camel’s back, said Burton. Its unfair funding decisions, including its approval of duplicate Master of Business Administration programs at Towson State University and the University of Baltimore while denying Morgan State, Howard and other HBCUs appropriate money, was simply too much to bear.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is considering a possible federal suit.

CHICAGO: Voters to cast ballot on troop withdrawal

Voters in Chicago, suburban Cook County, Springfield, DeKalb, Aurora and Champaign-Urbana will get a chance to make their voices heard on the Iraq war when they go to the polls Nov. 7. In these jurisdictions the ballot includes the nonbinding question, “Shall the United States Government immediately begin an orderly and rapid withdrawal of all its military personnel from Iraq beginning with the National Guard and Reserves?”

Carl Davidson, co-chair of Chicagoans Against War and Injustice, a leading force in getting the initiative on the ballot, said, “Millions have demonstrated against war, hundreds of towns and cities have passed resolutions against the war, now we are giving every voter a chance to vote their opinion directly in this critical national election. This is one action among many, but they all add up.”

An antiwar ballot measure is also before voters in 139 communities in Massachusetts and in more than a dozen communities in Wisconsin. Last April, Wisconsin voters in 24 of 32 cities and towns voted for immediate withdrawal.

LAS VEGAS: Media campaign spotlights homelessness

There are about 14,000 homeless people in Las Vegas, and the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition’s Committee on Homelessness is using television ads to bring the issue into greater prominence.

“It’s hard just to survive knowing that there’s no chance of you getting a job because you can’t read or write,” says a good-looking young man in a taped street interview for one ad. “I don’t use dope. I don’t smoke crack. I don’t do speed. I don’t drink. It’s the opportunities that are few and far between.”

Shannon West, a regional homeless coordinator, said, “These are real people who are interested in telling their stories.”

The purpose of the campaign is to dispel myths about homeless people and encourage donations to the United Way to provide help.

Linda Lera-Randle El, director of Straight from the Streets, an advocacy group that is defying a city ordinance that evicts homeless people from public parks, said, “We’re getting complacent. We’re used to watching people shuffle down the street with a shopping cart, a mother dragging kids through the homeless corridor, as if it’s the way it’s supposed to be.” Citing the lack of affordable housing and rising gas prices, she added, “They don’t understand that many of the working poor are barely hanging on.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).