Community gathers in Tiffany Loop to protest Statement on Human Sexuality

Students, faculty, staff and alumni give speeches to celebrate LGBTQ community and castigate Board of Trustees

Kyle Morrison, News Editor

Ahead of The Board of Trustees’ upcoming emergency meeting on Monday, the SPU community gathered once more to celebrate the LGBTQ community and protest the Board’s recent decision to uphold the Statement on Human Sexuality.

Event organizer Reena Sidhu explained that this gathering is much different than last week’s vigil and other events that have been organized to protest the statement on human sexuality in the past.

“The Vigil was very much to sit in lament and sit in community and grieve and process any emotions you’re feeling. Here we’re angry and we’re here to call the Board of Trustees,” Sidhu explained. “Last week we showed them our emotions and became transparent so they got to see how we’re feeling. Here, we are here to remind you we are a little pesky bug you cannot get rid of.”

A crowd full of LGBTQ SPU students and their allies filled the loop holding colorful signs with messages of affirmation and anti-board sentiment.

“Your relief should not come at the cost of my oppression” and “DISCRIMINATE ON YOUR OWN DIME! #NO MORE FEDERAL $,” some of the signs read.

As people gathered and the clock creeped past 2 p.m., the music that had filled the loop stopped and a series of speeches began.

Spencer Vigil, an alumnus who is suing the Department of Education for violating Title IX during his time at SPU spoke first and opened the dialogue by thanking everyone in the crowd for showing up.

Next, current student Raegan Figgins, one of the event’s organizers, read the day’s mission statement.

“We are here because we want to remove SPU’s Statement on Human Sexuality. We will not stand for the alienation on the basis of sexual orientation. We are here because our trans and queer BIPOC siblings deserve better. We will not stand for the verbal, mental, emotional, or physical abuse inflicted on anyone. We are here becasue we want queer professors, we deserve to be taught by the most qualified candidates,” Figgins recited as part of the mission statement.

Education professor Greg Fritzberg took the mic. He emphasized that while he has purity culture leanings on sex, he does not believe someone’s sexual identity should be a consideration in the University’s hiring process.

“I personally prize the Christian counter cultural idea of sexual sobriety, faithfulness and carefulness with intimate partners. On this I guess I have some purity culture leanings. Guilty as charged,” Fritzberg said. “But that’s talking about sexual behavior more than identity. Sexual identity and some cases related to gender identity is not a matter of choice. Sexual identity can be as private as one wishes or it can be expressed publicly and powerfully… God loves all of us as we are, unconditionally.  Queer students, thanks for being proudly “out,” or coming out when you want, as much as you want.  Hopefully, any queer faculty or staff – and all job applicants – will enjoy a similar freedom very soon.”

Psychology professor Dana Kendall took a more remorseful tone, saying that her and the rest of the faculty had been silent on this issue for too long and that their silence was harmful.

“It should not have taken a lawsuit for us to address this issue,” Kendall said. “Not only is the policy itself harmful, but many of us in faculty and administration are complicit in not explaining it to student applicants so they could make an informed choice to come here. This policy was not broadcast transparently on the university’s website; it was buried.”

At the end of her speech, Kendall said the SPU community should be more focused on improving the lives of oppressed minorities instead of the powerful Board of Trustees.

Next music professor Christopher Hansen followed up his speech at last week’s vigil by reading the faculty’s statement of no confidence in full and rebuking the Board for their unwillingness to learn.

“There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity,” Hanson explained. “Ignorance is the lack of knowledge but the will to learn. Stupidity is a lack of knowledge and the lack of the will to learn. I would argue, and this is a personal sentiment, what we are seeing from the Board of Trustees is stupid.”

As the events of the protest went on, ASSP announced that it had, in conjunction a group of SPU graduates, successfully formed an alumni coalition. The notion of this coalition was first mentioned last week when ASSP released its list of seven consequences for the board if the Statement on Human Sexuality is not eliminated by May 1.

This coalition was formed to reduce enrollment and discourage donations to the school if demands aren’t met. Currently over 750 people have already pledged they will not donate to SPU if the statement isn’t changed by May 1.

Michelle Valdez, from SPU’s 2001 graduating class, explained that her experience at SPU, as well as her hopefulness for future queer SPU students inspired her to join the coalition.

“It bothered me at SPU that they had a human sexuality statement, but it was hard to do anything when I wasn’t even out to my parents,” Valdez explained. “I want to help set up a mentorship coalition so that if people have questions or want to talk through it or depending on what happens, maybe they don’t want to go to SPU next year and they need some support going through that.”

After an hour of speeches, about 50 students began a march around campus chanting and calling for SPU to change.

“Hey hey ho ho homophobias got to go,” and “We are here, we are queer, get that statement out of here,” were a couple of the chants that echoed through Martin square and along the route.

As the event ended, the organizers and the community members involved left with a sense of resolve and motivation for the unknown future SPU faces.

“I think this isn’t a win or lose situation, this is a ‘we’re not going to stop until it’s over’ situation,” said Raegan Figgins. “There’s no losing for us, we’ve been told ‘no’ so many times, this is just the next step.”


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Dr. Fritzberg had “traditionalist views on marriage.” This phrase was confusing. Fritzberg believes in sexual sobriety but fully supports the LGBTQIA+ community.