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UVSC Sees Drop of $200,000 in Donations

UVSC Sees Drop of $200,000 in Donations

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Valley State officials estimate they have lost about $200,000 in donations since inviting controversial filmmaker Michael Moore to the Orem campus.

However, that is just a drop in the bucket from the $4 million to $5 million of gifts the campus gets annually.

President William Sederburg said those who withdrew their money or pledges weren't true supporters of UVSC, and instead want the school to be just like Brigham Young University, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in neigbhoring Provo.

"The people we have lost are people who really want us to be BYU," Sederburg told the Deseret Morning News. "But these are people who, down the road, would have probably pulled out anyway.

"We're not against the LDS Church," Sederburg said. "But we're also not BYU. We want to define our own niche and find where we fit in."

Moore arrived on campus Oct. 20, applauding student leaders who took heat for inviting him. Nine days earlier the college had invited Sean Hannity, a conservative Fox News Network commentator, to balance Moore's criticism of President Bush and the war in Iraq.

Many people took issue with Moore's $40,000 fee. Student leaders who invited the director of "Fahrenheit 9/11" noted that no one objected when former first lady Barbara Bush commanded and received the same fee four years ago during a visit to Orem.

However, student body Vice President Joe Vogel resigned Thursday after student body officers took exception to his plans to write a book about his experience in bringing Moore to campus.

Sederburg says he believes the role of a publicly funded institution of higher education is to provide a forum for diverse ideas, and Moore's visit accomplished that.

"It started out negative, but as people began to digest it, it turned into a real positive," he said. "We came to a general consensus that the issues like freedom of speech and academic expression won out."

Still, Sederburg remains unhappy about hundreds of e-mails sent to the school, containing threats to withdraw donations, physically injure students who invited Moore and even boycotting grandchildren's graduations.

Sederburg said those threats didn't foster civil discourse.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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