When we last spoke about SPU, there had been no public response from the university. Today, that has changed.
Long story short, Seattle Pacific University decided to not recognize Haven, a group on campus that promotes discussion about LGBTQ issues. Because LGBTQ issues are a hot button for LGBTQ-friendly Seattle, this got picked up by The Stranger, then the Seattle P-I, and KOMO newsradio. Because SPU chose not to comment to the media about their stance, they were villainized as depriving students of a voice.
Astutely, Sheryl Rosenberg, first year SDA student, commented on our last post about SPU, framing the argument as a public relations foul up, rather than being truly bad policy. Now (and perhaps too late) SPU has chosen to comment…but only internally. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeff Jordan spoke with the student newspaper about the issue, saying
“I don’t think we have, in some way, said, ‘Stop talking about sex,’” Jordan said. “We haven’t done that, nor do we want to do that.”
Then Seattle Pacific University’s President, Dr. Phillip Eaton sent an e-mail about the issue. He gets a bit preachy, but I found something interesting in the letter:
“This is a time when our culture has made some decisive moves on these things, shifting quite dramatically even over the last five years, and we ask now, as a Christian community, how we might affirm where we stand as Christians as we engage that culture, how we might lovingly communicate the ancient tradition we represent?”
This can be one of those situations where the age gap has come into play. Studies have indicated that younger folks are by and large more tolerant of an alternative life style (or at least gay marriage), whereas people over 35 begin to segregate, usually coming out against it. In this instance then, students may be very comfortable meshing their faith with alternative sexuality, where as traditionally, that hasn’t been the case. At what point does this argument feature into the fundamental difference in the point of views between the administrators and the students? Should the administrators adjust because students are more progressive on an issue, or does the university continue to attempt to acculturate students to their point of view? How much do students have the capacity to change the university?