PHILADELPHIA— Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) released the following statement in response to Council’s passage of a resolution condemning a pattern of racial discrimination against African American students at Chestnut Hill College and the College’s attempts to appeal this ruling to the Commonwealth Court:
“The resolution passed today, which I introduced with Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) goes beyond the singular injustice of an African American student being denied his degree just weeks before graduation to something much greater. The College is refusing to take accountability for Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission findings of racial discrimination and is instead appealing its case to the Commonwealth Court on the basis of religious freedom.
Let me be clear, no institution, religious or otherwise, has the freedom to racially discriminate. Chestnut Hill’s appeal not only threatens to undermine the civil rights of its own students, current and former, but also the civil rights of thousands of students enrolled in over fifty private colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.
We are calling on Chestnut Hill, an institution that accepts state and federal funding for its students, to live up to its own stated ideals of building a loving, inclusive community. Any effort to roll back hard-won civil rights in our city is unacceptable.
We are urging Chestnut Hill to withdraw its appeal. We cannot turn back the clock on civil rights.”
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Helen Gym was sworn in as an At-Large Member of Council 2016. Her primary concerns include addressing widespread poverty in Philadelphia, particularly through an emphasis on building a quality public education system. For more information, visitphlcouncil.com/HelenGym.