Students at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), a private Christian university, are holding a sit-in on campus after the institution’s board voted to uphold rules banning the hiring of LGBTQ+ staff.
According to NPR the SPU Board of Trustees chose to uphold the ban as it was ‘ most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith’, however, on May 26 students decided to protest.
‘Reflecting traditional views’
In a statement, the university said faculty and staff at the uni must ‘continue to reflect a traditional view on Biblical marriage and sexuality, as an expression of long-held church teaching and biblical interpretation.’
It explained they understood the decision brought ‘heart-felt reactions’ but they’ve chosen to have SPU ‘remain in communion’ with the Free Methodist Chruch’.
The statement continued: ‘While this decision brings complex and heart-felt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as a core part of its historical identity as a Christian university.’
Students take a stand
Organised by the group ‘SPU is Gay’, the sit-in went on over several days at the Royal Brougham Pavilion as dozens of people took part.
On May 26, they tweeted that they were on day three of the sit-in and stated that they have support from ‘faculty, staff, and alum who also want change.’ On May 29, the students hit 100 hours of the SPU sit-in, and on May 30 they simply tweeted: ‘Still gay. Still here. Still listening to Nicki Minaj.’
- WARNING ISSUED: DfE threatens schools with funding cuts for alleged homophobia
AJ Larsen, a 2020 graduate and member of SPU’s alumni coalition, told NPR: ‘No matter what you believe, getting rid of these policies is the best way to make sure that our campus is an inclusive place for all people to be.
‘Not only in the student body but in the faculty, staff and administration. And that’s going to make SPU a much better place to be.’
Legal action could be taken
On May 31, the students claimed that they have been trying to contact Bob Ferguson, Attorney General of Washington, to bring a lawsuit against the SPU board of trustees for ‘breaching their fiduciary duties.’ They said that the board ‘has chosen to uphold a policy that is out of alignment with the university and that negatively affects our educational opportunities.’
Their list of demands to the board include; the board must reveal how each trustee voted, and that trustees ‘who voted in alignment with campus belief must publicly condemn their homophobic colleagues.’
The students also demand that the board request that every trustee who voted in favour of upholding the policy must resign.
Cedric Davis, the Board of Trustees Chair, said the trustees made their decision based on what they believed was most in line with the university’s mission. He said: ‘We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation.’