A group of students and faculty at Montana Tech are organizing an unprecedented graduation boycott to protest the university's decision to invite two commencement speakers who are prominent supporters of a young earth creationist museum.
Montana power couple Greg and Susan Gianforte are engineers who have founded several tech companies and made donations to computer science programs at colleges throughout the state. But what rankles critics is that the Gianfortes were also major donors to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which describes itself as the "largest dinosaur and fossil museum in the United States to present its fossils in the context of biblical creation." Its mission statement:
When you visit a major natural history museum today, you will see wide-eyed elementary and preschool children (not to mention their parents and teachers) being funneled into an abyss of scientific deception. No matter whether it's the study of animals, earth science, or astronomy, the wonders of God's creation are prostituted for evolutionism. And the end result is just more confusion, mystification, and cynicism in the lives of our young people and adults.
For their part, the Gianfortes have told Montana reporters that they will talk about their engineering careers and will not touch on social issues at commencement. But for the students, faculty and alumni who oppose the invitation, the key issue is that their university should not be honoring individuals who campaign against science.
In a letter to the Montana Standard, professor emeritus Dave Carter says:
Creationists have eroded student credibility in the American educational system. You can't tell a young person "Don't believe this, or that, or the other when you get to class," and expect them to believe everything else.
If you tell students the school is lying, they're not likely to believe much of the rest of the curriculum either. And when students believe that a school is telling them something less than the truth, they're not going to learn very much. Instead of being a place where young people go to learn the facts and skills to help them towards happiness and financial success, school now becomes a place the law says you have to go to until you turn 18.