Senior leadership for the university will update the student handbook for the 2018-19 academic year to prohibit student employees from being in same-sex relationships. The university has said this change makes their stance on sexual stewardship more consistent with the Christian ideals the university professes to follow.
This policy change, however, could lead to backlash from the student population. A survey done by the LGBTQ+ Student Task Force last spring found that 79.3 percent of the 1,015 students surveyed indicated that they believe students should not be prohibited from entering into a same-sex relationship, nor should current students be punished.
This student task force commissioned by the Board of Trustees held multiple town halls and conducted a survey which was taken by a quarter of the ACU student population. Perhaps it wouldn’t have even mattered to the recent policy change if the survey had found 100 percent support for LGBTQ+ among students. At a minimum, the SLT and board should have had a better roll-out for the recent policy changes in light of almost 80 percent support for LGBTQ+ students being in relationships while at school here. Make a policy change, that’s fine, but at least explain your reasoning when a clear majority won’t agree.
Furthermore, the policy change puts the university in potential legal jeopardy. Religious private institutions can apply for and receive an exemption from the Title IX protections barring universities from “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.” However, ACU has not applied for this waiver and therefore could possibly be sued for this policy change. Compounding this, the workplace is literally the biggest sphere of life you can not discriminate in.
Even worse, if they have to settle a lawsuit or are fined for this violation, the money will come from student tuition or money donated by alumni. Again, make a policy change, people might disagree. No matter what the university does on this issue, there will be people who have their problems with it. Just don’t do it in such a ham-fisted, legally risky and overall sketchy way. It is not too much to ask the SLT to clearly explain their reasoning behind the change to a student body which holds opposing beliefs.
A clear majority of the student population believes that every student should be treated equally and fairly regardless of their sexual orientation. One con to the new policy would be a backlash from students on campus.
The new policy won’t affect students’ chances of being accepted into the university, but it would create a feeling of secrecy for those who identify as LGBTQ+. Any student in a same-sex relationship would be forced to suppress their identity and hide their relationship for fear of losing their job or simply not being accepted by people on campus.
The university has always been clear on its stances for sexual stewardship, but the new policy cements a feeling of “anti-LGBTQ” on campus, which might make some students want to leave campus altogether. There will now be a feeling that certain students are not as worthy as others on our campus, which is obviously a problem for a community built on love and acceptance.
Something that every Christian should be able to agree with is that we should express our love and acceptance for anybody and everybody regardless of their sexual orientation. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves; we are not called to judge.
One good thing about this policy change, though, is that the university leadership has shown where it stands on LGBTQ+ students. Taking a stand may have taken them years; they may have stumbled a few times, and they may not be sure why or where they are standing, but hey, they took a stand.