Chapel talk takes unexpected turn

Difficult topics addressed as chapel crowd shows support for LGBTQIA+ community

Carlos Snellenberg-Fraser, Staff Writer

Students brought pride flags and signs in support of the LGBTQIA+ community to Chapel. (Aubrey Rhoadarmer)

On Sept. 28, Interim President Pete Menjares, Chaplain Lisa Ishihara, and ASSP President Laur Lugos held a table talk at Chapel to discuss a parable about wealth, a conversation that evolved into a discussion of the LGBTQIA+ community.

LGBTQIA+ students and allies attended Chapel with pride flags and signs of protest. They were there to show support for the community and for Lugos, who was invited before the school year began to speak at Chapel with university leaders.

“Chaplain Lisa, President Menjares, and I were all discussing the ways that this parable deals with privilege and power,” said Lugos. “I wanted to make it clear that as leaders within this university, it is necessary to steward our resources and privileges to take action against our own community’s pressing injustices.”

Lugos said Menjares was not prepared for the discussion on the pressing matters and issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community on campus.

“I recognize that there is tension between ASSP and Dr. Menjares because he was not prepared to discuss the Statement on Human Sexuality, nor did he believe it was a pressing issue,” said Lugos.

Lugos said she received feedback from Chapel attendees affirming that the conversation she had with the university administration leaders was one that was necessary for the SPU community.

Ben Masters, second-year nursing cohort student president, attended Chapel dressed in a rainbow cape and handed out disposable rainbow print masks to passers-by. Masters attended for what he says is his calling through the Nursing Code of Ethics by the American Nursing Association.

“You have to be involved in politics if you want to really stand up for what nursing is, and that really hit hard with me,” said Masters. “You can’t just do part of the job if you want to do a calling, you have to go all the way in. For me it’s part of the discipline.”

Masters brought his own posters to Chapel that showed studies from the Department of Health, American Nursing Association, various military institutions, and the National Institute of Health. All of the studies concluded that it is damaging to society to exclude people based on born characteristics, such as their sexual orientation and identity.

Masters believes that sexual orientation is an inborn human right and he found it witless that it has to be protested about in 2021. He attended because the more people who were in attendance would show the widespread support on-campus for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Visibility is number one. Number two is just [to show] support for people who need extra allies and visibility, there’s no replacing that,” said Masters.

Emily Nguyen, second-year nursing major and President of the SPU Asian American Association, attended Chapel to show support.

Nguyen, a Wesleyan small-group leader, described that some members of her cohort arrived at Chapel wearing their scrubs to show that they, as nurses, were there to advocate.

She said that the discussion among Lugos and the university leaders about privilege made her think of the privilege she has as a nursing student.

Chaplain Lisa Ishihara, Interim President Pete Menjares and ASSP President Laur Lugos discuss privilege and power during a Table Talk at Tuesday Chapel. (Aubrey Rhoadarmer)

“They were talking a lot about privileges and that made me think I do have the privilege of being a nursing student,” said Nguyen.

In the discussion at Chapel, Lugos called for the administration and student leaders to utilize the legislative privileges they hold to talk about LGBT rights on campus.

“As leaders, we have the ability, we have the connections, we have the influence, and we have the resources of the legislative privileges to talk about LGBT rights here on campus. I think that is something we need to do,” said Lugos. “If you look around, we have everybody in rainbow masks and carrying signs. If we are going to talk about power and privilege, we have to talk about this issue.”