Student groups give Board of Trustees May 1 deadline to remove hateful language

Students respond with outrage, determination after Board of Trustees refuses to change Statement on Human Sexuality

Kit Nowicki, Staff Reporter

Photo Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

Students expressed disappointment and outrage following the announcement from Provost and executive in charge, Laura Hartley, regarding the Board of Trustees’ decision to keep the Statement on Human Sexuality.

The Associated Students of Seattle Pacific President, José Flores feels that the decision is disrespectful to the faculty and staff that have worked to get the statement eradicated, as well as to students and their stories.

“I think I think the student body as a whole deserves an explanation, and for them to simply kind of just brush their hands of it and just walk away is kind of, like I said, very disrespectful,” said Flores.

The ASSP CORE has formally requested that the Board of Trustees remove the Statement on Human Sexuality before May 1, the decision deadline for incoming students, and Flores said there’s still a lot to be done, so the fight isn’t over yet.

“We are currently working alongside a coalition of faculty and staff that are going to meet pretty soon to discuss what their following steps are, but for us personally as ASSP, our demand still stays the same that we want them to remove it by May 1,” said Flores.

He said that the SPU community needs people to step up and fill into whatever capacity they can to keep the momentum going.

“I’m feeling pretty frustrated and angry, but at the same time, knowing that personally I just can’t sit in those feelings, because I think what’s at stake is a lot more important than how I personally am feeling,” said Flores.

Executive Vice President-elect, Ciarra Choe said that she is not only heartbroken by the decision but angry at the way it was announced.

“Hartley said people would be ‘relieved’ by this, meaning the Board is prioritizing the comfort of their un-affirming views over the humanity and basic rights of our LGBTQ+ folks at SPU,” said Choe.

She says that this is hypocritical of their Christian ideals, and until funding and enrollment numbers are affected, the Board of Trustees will continue to ignore the community’s requests to remove the statement.

“It has become quite clear to me this is not about convincing the Board’s moral or spiritual conscience, but this is about upholding toxic theology to maintain their funding,” said Choe.

Choe is working to take action and move forward as she prepares to step into her new role. She is working on both short and long-term ways for students to get more involved in the issue in the future.

“To anyone who feels the same disappointment, anger, and shame about going to SPU that I do, I see you,” said Choe. “As an ally, I want all members of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are so loved and supported. I will always stand with you.”

Spencer Vigil, an SPU alumnus who recently joined a class action lawsuit against the Department of Education asking for religious colleges to be forced to protect Title IX rights, said he’s not surprised by the Board’s decision, but was shocked at the way it was addressed.

“I thought that email was very inappropriate and almost unwarranted for the importance of the matter,” said Vigil. “It was almost kind of like, they felt like they had to speak on it. As if any LGBTQ+ student on campus didn’t matter. It was an afterthought.”

Vigil said SPU preaches that they love all of their students and treat all of their students the same, but the email sent out proves that this isn’t true.

“I’m not buying it for one second at all. They have to work a little bit harder than that. We are smart people who know when we are being fed things that aren’t satisfying to us,” said Vigil. “We know when something’s rotted, we know when something’s bad and does not taste good, and, dang, if that email, wasn’t it?”

Vigil said that the SPU community has worked hard to push this change, and he felt that joining the class action lawsuit was the only thing left to do.

“I want to make it known to SPU, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it really is, and, if the board is upset about us making noise, it’s just going to keep happening and keep going because times are changing.”

He said that this has been a long time coming, and should serve as no surprise to the Board of Trustees.

“They’re boasting about having money and their potential for money and really boosting their ego and having pride in benefiting off of the oppression of others,” said Vigil.

On Monday, multiple SPU clubs joined ASSP in demanding the board to remove the statement on human sexuality by May 1.

The Hindsight History Club Treasurer, Megan Nixon said that Hindsight stands with the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to advocate for change on-campus as well.

“Hindsight believes that our community should be a welcoming space for all. SPU’s current Statement on Human Sexuality and related ‘conduct expectations’ do not align with this goal, and we are incredibly disappointed in the Board’s decision to not change these harmful policies,” said Nixon.

Hindsight Officer, Marisa Silva said that she chose SPU because she wanted a welcoming Christian environment, and while she feels she’s been blessed to have had affirming interactions with faculty, she’s disappointed with the Board of Trustees and their decision.

“I feel naive now thinking about how I felt coming to SPU, especially now that I am seeing the true colors of the school board,” said Silva. “It’s so far from the Biblical love that the Christian faith is founded on, to see one element of someone’s identity as grounds for exclusion.”

Silva believes that it’s hypocritical of SPU to preach wanting to “engage the culture and change the world,” when it isn’t open to change and is excluding entire communities of people.

“I think part of why we need history is because of how much can be learned from the countless examples of discrimination and hatred against differing identities,” said Silva. “We just want to be on the right side of History going forward, and we need to start now.”