While they work on that, here's the latest from a pile of letters that have been shared with me:
Dear Dean Jordan,
My name is Kate Steensma, and I graduated from SPU this past spring. I am now attending graduate school on a full-tuition assistantship at Michigan State University, and I truly believe that I would not be where I am today without the pristine education that I received at Seattle Pacific. Thank you.
When I meet fellow graduate students or professors, a common question they ask me is where I earned my bachelor’s degree. In all honestly, I am ashamed to admit that I graduated from SPU. Despite the positive experiences I had at SPU, I am truly embarrassed by the administration’s treatment of the student group, Haven.
I was a freshman at SPU when the Soulforce Equality Ride visited our campus, and after attending the forum, I began regularly attending Haven meetings. At that time, I was impressed with the openness exhibited by the SPU community, and proud to attend a university that was so progressive among Christian institutions. Over the next 4 years, Haven fostered nothing less than a safe and welcoming environment that allowed many of my friends and I to participate in engaging the LGBT culture in honest and objective discussion. Over those 4 years, I became increasingly disappointed as Haven was denied official student club status, again and again. For a university that claims to “engage the culture,” it seems awfully backwards of you to refuse to recognize a group of students who seek to do just that.
I had a few openly gay friends while I was at SPU, but since graduating, I have learned that I actually had many gay friends during my time there. It is unfortunate that some students do not feel comfortable enough to be open about their sexuality on SPU’s campus. I believe that the presence of a student group like Haven is vital to provide a safe space for students of all opinions and backgrounds to converse about these issues without feeling marginalized or threatened. The simple fact that Haven exists is an encouragement to LGBT students on campus, even if they never attend a meeting.
Please know that I cannot, in good conscience, recommend SPU to prospective students, or offer any financial contributions to SPU, until you agree to offer Haven official club status, and consider revising your statement on Human Sexuality. I look forward to your demonstration that SPU can indeed be the grace-filled community that it claims to be.
Katherine Steensma, 2010 alumna