ASSP-endorsed measures may reduce funds for programs and clubs

ASSP leaders have publicly endorsed measures that may result in funding reduction for SPU programs, events, and clubs

Carlos Snellenberg-Fraser, Staff Writer

Laur Lugos, current VP of Intercultural Affairs, and ASSP President Elect. (Courtesy of Laur Lugos)

In response to the Board of Trustees announcement to not remove the controversial Statement on Human Sexuality, a group of students, faculty, and alumni put together a list of measures for the board to act on by May 1. 

ASSP leaders endorsed those measures, aimed to put financial pressure on the board to overturn their decision. These measures would result in a reduction in funding for SPU programs, events, and clubs. The Board of Trustees did not act on the request to complete the measures by May 1. 

Chuck Strawn, Dean of Students for Community Life, explained that much of what happens on the SPU campus is directly impacted by student enrollment and the fees enrolled students pay.

“Specifically, the fee that enrolled students pay funds much of the co-curricular events and opportunities that come to mind when people think of “the student experience,” Strawn said. “Student Senate and ASSP Core, campus programming and events, all of Student Media, Catalyst, many of the Student Ministry opportunities- all of these are funded solely through the student fee.”

Strawn explained that the lack of funding from a reduction in enrollment, there would be an impact on services such as campus bus passes and conferences, and it would cut funding for clubs like PICCA, the MODE Fashion Club, LINK, the Political Union, Black Student Union, the Bike Club, and Haven.

Laur Lugos, Vice President of Intercultural Affairs, emphasized support for the measures, even though there will be a financial impact on the university. 

We are hoping that these sanctions impact finances at SPU because the Board has not proven interest in anything else. If the Board is uninterested in the humanity of our LGBT+ siblings or a truly ecumenical community, we are going to do what we can to reduce the harm done onto our queer community,” Lugos said in an email response.

Lugos was not surprised to see the board maintain the Statement on Human Sexuality and emphasized that she hoped the measures will either pressure the university to change the policies, or drive prospective queer students away from SPU.

“I, personally, am not surprised by the Board’s decision to uphold homophobic values. Most of these Board members are holding positions of power because they benefit from the oppressive structures that are present in the Free Methodist Church,” Lugos said. “For them to shift policy would indicate interest in the kin’dom of God. The institution of the church does not value the kin’dom of God.”

Lugos said that the Board of Trustees has not reached out to ASSP leaders to open a dialogue about the measures or the decision made. 

“José (ASSP President) and I were able to have a conversation with Dr. Hartley but the Board has very specific rules that they must operate by so it is tricky to have these meetings outside of the already scheduled times.”

Strawn expressed gratitude for the students who continue to engage with the university to create change.

First, students regularly choose other opportunities rather than coming to SPU. While this impacts who we are as a campus, our team continues to partner with students and student leaders to build an inclusive and welcoming space,” Strawn said. 

Strawn placed emphasis on SPU’s desire for students to feel supported, challenged, celebrated, and affirmed.

“We also want to keep working for a community where people who chose to join us do so knowing that they will be fully able to participate, and that their doing so is beneficial for everyone,” he said. 

Strawn said he will miss the students who choose to take time away from SPU or who transfer universities in efforts with the measures. 

“I understand that one of the actions being considered as a response is for current students to take time away from SPU or to transfer altogether. Again, I want nothing but the best for our students in their journey, and will support whatever decisions they make.”