Columns » Public Eye

Academics meet their maker



Apparently no one tape-recorded state Rep. Dave Schultheis' recent speech to a group of about 120 CU-Springs students who gathered to be honored for their successes in academia. And that truly is a shame.

We would have loved to hear for ourselves this politician's powerful oratory as he offered his particular insight and inspiration to hungry young minds on their quest for excellence in higher education.

After all, this is the intellectual giant who has made a name for himself by pushing (so far unsuccessfully) a law that would force battling couples into a year of mandated counseling before they can get a divorce.

This is the same man who, when first running for office in 1999, accused unnamed vandals of "intimidating" and "harassing" him by leaving decapitated rabbits and rabbit entrails on his front porch "on several occasions" in an "obvious" attack against his Christian faith.

This is the politician who last year stunned observers and colleagues at the state capital when he weighed in on the nation's nursing shortage. Nevermind about nurses' low pay and excruciating hours, Schultheis laid the blame solely on the evils of feminism. If girls weren't being encouraged to become doctors instead, we'd never be in this mess, he insisted.

This is the same man who, on his Web page at, refers to homosexuality as a "vice," right up there with other "wrong behaviors" like lying, cheating and stealing.

Yes, indeed, disappointed is the term we would apply in having missed Schultheis' Feb. 23 keynote speech to 120 UCCS students with a 3.2 or better grade point average, who gathered at the university's annual academic success banquet.

Instead, we have to rely on the firsthand reports of the students who were actually there. And depending on which students you talk to, Schultheis' speech was mildly inspirational, plain boring or outright insulting.

"We were under the assumption that [Schultheis] would be talking about academic performance and success, or at least congratulating us and talking about ways to improve education," said student Amy Blakestad, a resident advisor in the university's Housing Village.

"But he got off topic right away and started talking about religion and morals and how we need to include it in our lives and in our schools."

Schultheis went on, Blakestad said, to condemn homosexuals, sexual promiscuity, alcohol use and drug abuse, claiming those who engage in such activities are "sinful and immoral people."

"He was using those terms, sinful and immoral, during his entire speech," she said. "It seemed like it dragged on for three hours."

Plenty of students, Blakestad reports, were offended. But, just like a car wreck, they couldn't turn away.

"There were about eight people at my table ready to walk out, but we wanted to stay to hear the rest of what he had to say," Blakestad said. "A few people [in the room] did walk out, but I couldn't tell if it was because they were mad or bored or had to go to the bathroom."

Joe Carl, the co-president of the student body at UCCS who served as the emcee of the event, acknowledges that he later heard from colleagues who were insulted by the keynoter's message. But overall, Carl doesn't recall any specifics.

"[Schultheis] did speak on being successful in life and on the issues of interest in his own life, but I can't really tell you from my remembrance about his references about homosexuality or drugs or alcohol," Carl said. "I was eating as well, and speaking to a couple of people at my table so I may have missed something.

"It was an honor for him coming and speaking to us."

The young woman who is credited for recruiting Schultheis to keynote the speech on "academic excellence" is Megan Burns, a graduate assistant and resident assistant supervisor at UCCS. Burns has in the past solicited Schultheis' help in holding Bible study sessions in her dorm room.

Last week, Burns deflected questions about Schultheis' comments with a quiz of her own. Specifically, when asked why she felt Schultheis was the most appropriate person to speak to this particular group of academics, Burns replied:

"What is this article about?"

Then, she asked, "Is this a liberal slant?"

Then, she asked, "What's your goal with this article?"

Then, she asked, "Who contacted you?"

Then, she noted, "I would like it confirmed that homosexuality was not mentioned."

Burns finally responded to the initial query, "Why was Rep. Schultheis chosen as the most appropriate speaker on academic excellence?"

"He happened to be the one who was chosen."

For more on Schultheis, tune in next week.

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast