Political correctness was at its zenith at USM in 1992, the year that Bill Clinton and Ross Perot challenged president George H.W. Bush for the White House. Students seemed to overwhelmingly favor the Democratic side, but conservative students kept the faith, diligently writing letters to the editor expressing their views.
Male students prefer “titties” to AIDS exhibit
Columnist Erika Ziller was up in arms over a conversation she overheard in the Portland Campus Center amphitheater, where a “Visual AIDS” exhibit was on display. The exhibit reportedly had images of gay men holding each other’s genitals. The male students she overheard declared the exhibit “disgusting,” “obscene” and “pornographic,” and they accused the University of wasting their tuition money on “smut.”
“Five minutes later,” Ziller wrote, “these same males made plans to go see the exotic dancers at Mark’s Showplace with comments about wanting to see some ‘titties.'”
Man complains about blow-up doll
In a letter to the editor, junior history major Jim Blood was distraught about seeing an “inflatable doll of a naked woman” perched atop the roof of the Phi Mu Delta fraternity house. Concerned that it might contribute to an atmosphere of hostility toward women at the University, he phoned to the fraternity to complain. Blood wrote that the brother who answered his call brushed off his complaint, saying, “Don’t give me a ration of shit pal. I’ll see what I can do about it.”
USM Conservative League office burglarized
A thief stole a membership directory and a copy of “The Way Things Ought to Be” by Rush Limbaugh from the desk of the USM Conservative League on the Portland campus. Conservative League President Joshua Hurley said he no longer felt it was safe to operate on campus. “I feel that we’re being targeted,” he said.
Traveling fundamentalists orally assault USM students
Students in Gorham got an unusual dose of excitement when a trio of fundamentalist religious zealots visited the campus. “Brother Jim,” “Brother Joe” and “Sister Pat” stood on the lawn in front of the cafeteria and orally assaulted students’ lifestyles, condemning them to “eternal damnation.” They attracted a crowd of 70 to 80 students, who responded with “insults, heckling, laughing and hollering.”
“You are all sinners!” screamed Sister Pat, who denounced women who wore jeans or shorts as “whores.”
Brother Jim began his sermon by saying, “I will not attempt to put the women of USM down. I will only attempt to put the women of USM in their place… I love to take wild fillies such as these [USM women] and whip them into submission.” Many students got in his face and yelled insults as he continued lecturing.
USM President Richard Pattenaude witnessed the spectacle and called it “an interesting exchange of ideas. That’s what the University is all about.” Many students, however, did not agree, and felt that the preachers should have been ejected from campus because their opinions were offensive.
Theater professors bicker over penis-related play
Student Aaron Petrovich’s play “Patterns in Beastiality” was chosen by Theater Department faculty for production in 1992, but Theater professor Minor Rootes, who was assigned to direct it, rejected the script, asked the faculty to reconsider their decision, and sent the script to Arts & Sciences Dean Dave Davis to warn him of its controversial nature.
“It’s outrageous,” fumed Playwriting professor Walter Stump. “It’s like sending a student’s paper around if you don’t like it… Unprofessional is what I call it… I told him [Prof. Rootes] in no uncertain terms I was angry.”
The subject of the play was the “tyranny of the male phallus.” Playwright Petrovich said of the play, which was plotless, “I’m trying to… take damaging mainstream ideology, exaggerate it, and work the audience into a frenzy by beating them over the head with it.”
Student protesters deny Quayle the right to be heard
In a letter to the editor, Jennifer Flaherty complained about Free Press coverage of a Bush/Quayle rally in Portland, because it only covered the protesters outside and not Marilyn Quayle’s speech inside. Of the protesters, some of whom were USM students, she wrote, “These are students? What are they training to be — Nazis?” She contended that while the protesters were exercising their right to free speech, they interfered with the rights of others by drowning out Quayle with their shouts.
“Witch denied right to practice ritual in dorm room”
Student Rebecca Hotaling was prohibited from engaging in her pagan rituals in her university dorm room, because her altar candles posed a fire hazard and her athame (a double-edged knife) was considered a deadly weapon.
Student life administrators were struggling to deal with the situation, but the article reported, “After waiting three weeks for answers to her problems, Hotaling is getting anxious as the full moon draws nearer.”
Hotaling was skeptical about the idea of finding an alternative space for practicing her ritual, because “it must be purified and the candles must burn freely. Plus, the rituals are performed in the nude.”
Clinton/Gore supporters are socialists
In a letter to the editor about a Clinton/Gore rally on the Portland campus, Student Sen. Eric R. Day upbraided the participants as “the left-wing socialists of the Democratic Party… blaming [Bush/Quayle supporters] for all that was evil in the world.”
Concerts advertised in the Free Press in 1992 included The B-52s, who played at the Civic Center with Violent Femmes opening, and The Monks of Doom, who played at Granny Killam’s Industrial Drinkhouse on Market Street in Portland.
Letters to editor complain about American culture
Women’s Studies major Jenna Mehnert wrote that she was disappointed that the Miss America pageant had restarted after being on hiatus for several years. She complained about superficial judgments of “womyn,” and added, “To be realistic we would need a black Miss America, a Hispanic Miss America, a lesbian Miss America, a straight Miss America, a Jewish Miss America, a Native American Miss America, etc.”
In another letter, sophomore Jennifer Lombard complained that the U.S. government was trying to force Christian values on its citizens.
Clinton will ruin the economy
A College Press Service article published in the Free Press said that most college newspaper editorials favored Bill Clinton for president, but there were some exceptions. The Duquesne Duke newspaper from Duquesne University in PA claimed that “If the unctuous ‘Slick Willy’… is elected, he will spiral this country into an economic abyss.”
Bush will win
In a letter to the editor, political science major Scott Blackwell predicted a reelection victory for the first President Bush. He said that people’s hearts would lead them to vote for Bush, “the man whom they honestly trust to lead America,” after they “reflect on Clinton’s vast, impossible socialist-utopian wish list.”
Brian O’Keefe can be contacted at [email protected]