A university affiliated with the Churches of Christ has introduced a scholarship for which the recipient needs to demonstrate commitment to the betterment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.
Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., announced last week that it will begin accepting applications for the “Frank James ‘Buddy’ Vinci and George B. Ellsworth Scholarship,” a new need-based scholarship awarded to candidates who emphasize service, volunteerism or extra curricular activities dedicated to improving the mental and physical health of the LGBT community.
The donors, Vinci and Ellsworth, wanted to support Pepperdine students who have actively demonstrated sensitivity to pressures LGBT people face, said Jerry Derloshon, Pepperdine’s senior director of Public Affairs.
“The scholarship is consistent with Pepperdine’s longstanding commitment to provide a welcoming and safe environment for students regarding sexual orientation,” Derloshon said. “Whatever their orientation, no matter their religious views or traditions, or ethnic backgrounds, Pepperdine ahs been committed to values of kindness, compassion and respect for all. As an institution of higher learning, Pepperdine respects the right of individual members of our community to hold different viewpoints and affirms that those with differing views should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Derloshson said the university is still holding to its Christian values, affiliation to the Church of Christ and stance on sexual relationships in its Student Handbook.
“Pepperdine affirms that sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between husband and wife,” he said. “As an institution, Pepperdine’s policies respect and promote this viewpoint. The Vinci and Elleworthe Scholarship signals only a continuation of the commitment to fostering a healthy environment for all of our students.”
Ed Kerestly, ACU’s director of Student Financial Services, said ACU does not have a similar scholarship and he is “not aware of anything in the works to do so.”
Sexual immorality, including pre-marital heterosexual and homosexual activity, is a Category Two violation of the ACU Student Handbook.
As recently as December of 2011, Pepperdine refused to recognize a gay-straight alliance group, “Reach OUT,” as an official student organization, according to the Pepperdine Graphic, the university’s newspaper. Mark Davis, Pepperdine’s dean of students, said the GSA would conflict with the school’s religious stance on sexual morality and did not “believe it is possible for a LGBT student organization to maintain a neutral position.”
It was the fourth time the university rejected an application from a GSA.
However, in the university’s School of Public Policy’s career services page, students can search through links to career opportunities, including nonprofits like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.