SGA requests ‘healing and equality’ for LGBTQ+ students in the form of answers and apologies

Azusa Pacific’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed two resolutions on Wednesday, Oct. 31, regarding the LGBTQ+ policies in the student handbook and an APU faculty member’s leaked letter to the press.

Earlier in the 2018-19 school year, the APU administration board removed language from their student code of conduct prohibiting public LGBTQ+ relationships. On Sept. 25, an American Conservative article leaked part of a letter written by Honors College professor Barbara Harrington in which she criticized the ban removal and described “the radicalization of [an] APU student.” The Board of Trustees sent an email on Sept. 28 alerting their decision to restore the code of conduct to its previous state.

A resolution called “Actions of Healing and Equality For APU Students” was authored by two SGA members and six students. The resolution calls for the administration board “to remove the ban on same-sex relationships OR to be explicitly clear of the consequences for students in same-sex relationships, why the board of trustees asked the group to change its name and call themselves a ministry, and what students or student group(s) they plan on collaborating with to come up with solutions regarding [the LGBTQ+ club formerly known as Haven] and how LGBTQ+ students on campus will be supported.”

The Actions of Healing and Equality resolutionstates that “LGBTQ+ students are being held at unequal standards than all other students, and under inconsistent and directly conflicting APU policies, and having their safe spaces taken from them without clarity as to why.”

The resolution said that the ban is inconsistent with sections 1.2, “Mutual Respect” and 6.0, “Hazing” of APU’s Student Standards of Conduct Policies because “the ban a) denigrates students due to their gender identity and sexual orientation; and b) is an act that causes a student to be the subject of ridicule and inflicts psychological and emotional harm.”

A second resolution titled “Apology to the APU Community for the Harmful Rhetoric of a Student” requests Harrington to send a written apology to the APU community “regarding her depiction of a student in her letter to the board of trustees, which violates both faculty and employee handbooks.”

In her letter, Harrington wrote, “I had another lovely young student transform from loving Jesus and her Christian faith when she came to APU, to becoming a sneering, bitter, self declared ‘queer womynist’ who now sees Christianity as the most divisive and pernicious influence in human history.”

The second resolution alleges that Harrington misrepresented the character of the student and used language in her letter that made it easy to identify the student in their small Honors College cohort.

In the meeting, SGA Speaker of the House Alexis Diaz said that though Harrington did not intend her letter to be publicized, it still had a significant impact on the student’s reputation and on the APU community.

“Of course she did not mean for the letter to get out, but it did. Of course she didn’t mean for [other] students to recognize the student, but we did. There is a difference between intention and how it’s perceived. I believe not calling for an apology [would be] like we condone that language as a university,” Diaz said during the meeting. “By not asking for an apology, we are saying that as SGA we think it is okay that professors can speak that way. Our words have impact and shape realities. We can see how our words affect our society. I want to hold a standard of how people speak at APU. I do think that it is extremely important that we address it.”

The first resolution has been communicated to the administration board and the second has been communicated to the board of trustees. ZU News will provide updates as they come.

Some information included in this article was provided by the Oct. 31 SGA meeting minutes, which can be found on the organization’s website.

*UPDATE: This article was updated on Nov. 15, 2018 at 11:20 a.m., with changes made to reflect the final draft of SGA’s second resolution.

The title of the second resolution was changed from “Actions of Healing for APU Students” to “Apology to the APU Community for the Harmful Rhetoric of a Student.”

The first draft of the second resolution, which we quoted, read “…regarding her inclusion and judgmental depiction of a student in her letter to the board of trustees, which violates both faculty and employee handbooks.” The final draft of the resolution reads, “…regarding her depiction of a student in her letter to the board of trustees, which violates both faculty and employee handbooks.” We have updated the article to match.