Prism, LGBTQ, and Westmont An Interview with Dr. Schulze and Dr. D'Amour on Prism, Same Sex Relationships on Campus and Living in Community
Views 385 | Time to read: 6 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 31 - 2017 | By: Emily Backman, Andrew Olson
[Editor's Note: Emily Backman, one of the authors is a member of Prism. Andrew Olson, Features Editor, is not. Transcript has been edited for clarity and length. “...”indicates absent material.]
As a follow up the Horizon’s recent article on Prism, an emerging LGBTQ group of Westmont Students, the Horizon sat down with Edee Schulze, Vice President of Student Life and Angela D'Amour, Director of Campus Life, to talk about Prism and LGBTQ issues on Campus. The interview was conducted on October 3rd, 2017 but was not published until this week due to disruption in the paper’s publishing schedule caused Westmont’s Four Day Break and was held for an additional week on the request of the interviewee’s to provide clarification.
Emily: Recently the Student Life Statement [Correction: Community Life Statement] was modified. It used to say “the college does not condone such practices such practices as homosexual practice,” but that language was removed, although we still do still have the language of the college has a commitment to heterosexual marriage. How and on whose authority were these changes made?
Edee: That was a Board of Trustees change [to the Community Life Statement.] You will also notice that in the student handbook [there are] further descriptions of behavior expectations. [The change to the Community Life Statement] doesn't change anything, I would say, on the ground in terms of student behavior…[was a] wording change that was made in light of the climate, politically, socially, and culturally and [us] wanting to be sensitive to a current difficult issue.
Emily: Considering Westmont’s funding, am I correctly saying this [Prism club membership] would be tricky because of the funding situation?...I’m saying this because there was a college, Samford, in Alabama which allowed a LGBTQ group on campus and they lost three million dollars in funding because of it. Do you think Westmont would be in a similar situation if they did the same?
Edee. I can’t predict the future. I do know that we have supporters who would be on the conservative side and we have some supporters who would be on the progressive side. And we want to be primarily about the main purpose, business and mission of the college, which is to provide a liberal arts education...We're trying to walk in our culture.... What I love about Westmont is that we have Christian..LGBTQ...Muslim… students who attend here. We are committed to protecting their safety, and ensuring that they have a good experience, creating opportunities to contribute to the community, just like we do for all students. There is a limit to what we are willing to advocate for when it is counter to Westmont's position.
Andrew. Can we bring it back to Prism and, Angela, I appreciate you being here today...in the past, LGBTQ students who chose to have various leadership positions, including WCSA, WAC, or RAs remained closed about their sexuality or gender identity. At least in that they have been hired or started the position. Would you hire a student who was open about their bi or homo sexuality to serve in leadership positions?
Edee: And I would say, depending on the level of leadership [we are] asking somebody to take on. The way that they are handling their personal integrity, all parts of their choices about their life, sexuality, alcohol use, smoking, I mean just all kinds of things, would impact what level of leadership we are willing to put them in...If somebody was using their position of leadership to advocate for a particular position that was counter to the college’s position, we wouldn't hire them. But that's related to lots of different things.
[After viewing the transcript of the interview, D’Amour provide the following clarifying statement in the stead of her previous reply]
Angela: For my perspective, yes. Student Life staff members are interested in supporting and hiring students from different backgrounds and identities. We do have policies about Christian faith commitments and behavioral expectations that align with the Community Life Statement. In general, we don’t ask about student's personal sexual, or relationship history in interviews. However, students who are openly antagonistic towards the college, or its policies would not likely be a good fit for student leadership.
[During the interview, Schulze was asked the following question. After reviewing her verbal response and consulting with the Horizon, Schulze provided the below statement]
Andrew: ...Does the administration allow students to engage in [behaviors] such as kissing, holding hands, or cuddling between individuals of the same sex to the same degree as they allow this behavior between heterosexual students?
“Westmont’s Community Life Statement indicates that we expect those who choose to marry to
abide by the commitment to lifelong heterosexual marriage. We also state that we abide by
Scriptural instructions related to things like drunkenness and sexual promiscuity. So, when
students behave in ways that are counter to who we are as a community, we have a
developmental and pastoral approach that underscores restoration and reconciliation. We work
with students in ways that are consistent with the ethos and the principles on which Westmont
operates. To give an easy yes/no answer to your question is not really possible because these are
principles that inform how we would respond given the situation. In general, we always take a
pastoral response to any situations with students that we encounter and we would respond to
heterosexual and same sex students with those same principles and approaches.”
The Horizon would like to thank Dr. Schulze and Dr. D’Amour for their time, patience, availability throughout the interview and writing process. If readers have any questions, please contact the Features’ Editor Andrew Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org.