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Online petition seeks removal of senator from Baldwin hall of fame

Senior+Julia+Gaetano+began+a+petition+to+have+Sen.+Hatch+removed+from+Baldwin%E2%80%99s+Distinguished+Highlander+Alumni+Hall+of+Fame+posted+outside+the+gymnasium.
Senior Julia Gaetano began a petition to have Sen. Hatch removed from Baldwin’s Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame posted outside the gymnasium.

Senior Julia Gaetano began a petition to have Sen. Hatch removed from Baldwin’s Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame posted outside the gymnasium.

Astrid Senko

Astrid Senko

Senior Julia Gaetano began a petition to have Sen. Hatch removed from Baldwin’s Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame posted outside the gymnasium.

By Fiona Selden, Astrid Senko, and Mason Hurley

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Senior Julia Gaetano has started an online petition to remove Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch from Baldwin’s Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame, but administration has no plans to do so.

Gaetano said she was compelled to start the petition after seeing a viral video in which Hatch responded to a group of women, later identified as including some sexual assault victims, by waving them off and saying he would talk to them when they “grow up.”

“I was spurred by Orrin Hatch’s behavior,” Gaetano said. “He did not act in a dignified way towards the sexual assault survivors, especially for a senator, and I don’t think that kind of behavior should be displayed on a wall of accomplished alumni.”

Gaetano said she was made aware of opposition to Hatch’s behavior and the idea of removing his plaque from the alumni hall of fame through tweets from other members of the Baldwin community.

The petition, at Change.org, states: “The Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame should serve as an example to students on what to strive for and honor those who represent the values of our community. Senator Orrin Hatch may be a notable figure, but he has not practiced the dignity, respect, or conduct that Baldwin aims to promote and embody. This is not about partisan politics, but about disrespectful behavior that negates fame.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Change.org petition had 78 signatures.

A spokesman for Hatch told the Washington Post that the viral video does not include the first half of the encounter between Hatch and the protesters, and that none of the women had identified themselves as sexual assault survivors during the confrontation.

Superintendent Dr. Randal Lutz said the video was not complementary to Hatch, and it was not “a good look” for him. However, Lutz also pointed out that the video does not contain the entire encounter between Hatch and the protesters.

“The challenge is that we don’t know the rest of the story,” Lutz said. “Sometimes things can be edited to show one side of the story.”

There have been no talks in the administration to remove the plaque, and Lutz said he does not believe that a 30-second video carries enough weight to overshadow Hatch’s entire career.

Lutz said he had no problem with the petition itself, and that he was glad to see students taking a political position and defending their point.

“We’re trying to teach kids advocacy here. She disagrees and is trying to convey her thoughts,” Lutz said of Gaetano.

Lutz said that the way Gaetano is advocating is respectful, and that he gives her credit for doing so in such a manner.

Students, meanwhile, were divided on the petition.

Senior Angela Miller, who signed the petition, agrees with Gaetano.

“I am a firm believer that there is no place on a wall of fame for an assault sympathizer. He doesn’t deserve that kind of recognition,” Miller said.

Others said they disagreed with the online petition.

Seniors Alex Kindling and Nate Hobson said Hatch should apologize to the protestors, but that he should remain in the hall of fame, with his photo on the wall in the second-floor hallway with all the other notable alumni.

“I believe that he should stay on the wall. He made an immature comment, but I don’t think that his name should be removed from the wall because of it,” Hobson said.

Kindling agreed.

“I don’t agree with what he said, but at the same time it’s not about good alumni but our famous ones. The recognizable name should stay up,” Kindling said.

Even if the petition is unsuccessful, though, Gaetano said it will have served a purpose.

“I don’t know if the plaque will be taken down, but it will show that the Baldwin community doesn’t stand for this kind of behavior,” she said.

This story was originally published on Purbalite on October 15, 2018.

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