SEATTLE, Wash. — On May 24, students at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) emerged from their classrooms and staged a sit-in outside the president’s office. They have now exceeded 300 hours in protest at the Board’s decision to retain current University employee lifestyle expectations for sexual behavior.
The SPU Board of Trustees voted on the 23rd to continue to deny employment to LGBTQ+ faculty and staff.
Board Chairman Cedric Davis said: “While there are complex and heartfelt reactions to this decision, the Board has made a decision that it believes is most consistent with the mission and statement of faith of the university and chose that SPU remain in communion with its foundation. denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as central to its historical identity as a Christian university.
The decision reflects the university’s commitment to the traditional view of biblical marriage and its identity as an Orthodox, Evangelical, Wesleyan and ecumenical institution built to honor its teachings of faith.
However, this decision was not supported by many students and staff who work, study, and live on campus, resulting in the sit-in that still occurs today. Run by the SPU ASSP (Associated Students of Seattle Pacific), this sit-in allows students, faculty, and community members who disagree with university policy to register for slots. specific times to participate in the event so that students can attend classes. while the space outside the president’s office is always busy 24/7.
The ASSP and SPU Protest Fund set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a lawyer to sue the school, stating on the fundraising page, “We are raising money to file a lawsuit against the BOT for breach of fiduciary duty, meaning they are not acting in the organization’s best interest.
Students and faculty find the board’s decision does not reflect the beliefs of those actually on campus, arguing that the policy does more harm than good to the SPU community. The ASSP plans to continue with this sit-in until their demands are met for the resignation of all board members who agree with the conduct expectations of SPU employees.
On June 4, SPU’s Faculty Council passed a resolution to endorse the “Third Way” recommendation of SPU’s LGBTQIA+ Task Force. This resolution affirms that Christian educational institutions have the autonomy to establish policies that align with religious beliefs and institutional goals. However, this recommendation also affirms that SPU’s missionary identity has always reflected the importance of diversity, stating, “We believe that Christ calls us to value diversity and seek ways that all people in our community scholar grow in their individual gifts and contribute significantly to our common life and work”
The “Third Way” recommendations were endorsed by the Faculty Senate, concluding that “…SPU as a grace-filled learning community that recognizes, respects, and invites inquiry into the diversity of Christian opinions on same-sex relationships and gender identity, and revises employee conduct policies to permit same-sex sexual activity within marriage, thereby making same-sex married persons eligible for employment”.
While this resolution does not change the University’s employment policy, it demonstrates broad staff support for the policy’s dissolution, with 80% “Yes” votes (197 out of 225 members) in favor of this. resolution.
As of Monday, the students continue to occupy the room in front of the office of the rector of the University and the end of the year does not worry them with plans to continue the sit-in all summer.