Community responds to Hartley’s town hall

Members of the SPU community speak out on Provost Hartley’s comments last night

Kyle Morrison, News Editor

SPU students and alumni expressed their feelings about Laura Hartley’s ASSP senate town hall on the statement of human sexuality that occured on Feb. 15. While some felt positively about the discussion, many were left dissatisfied.

ASSP senator for Ashton Hall Carrie Cox, who was one of the architects of the ASSP senate letter to the Board of Trustees, asking for the elimination of the statement on human sexuality, said she was thankful for Hartley’s presence at the meeting and her perspective.

“I was really thankful that she took time out of her schedule to come here and interact with students. I think it’s really cool and really special that we have a provost who will personally address these issues with students,” Cox explained. “As to specifically what she said, it’s enlightening to the student body as to how these decisions are actually made. A lot of it is pending on the Board of Trustees.”

Junior Jenna Rasmussen had a much less positive view of the town hall. She thought the format of pre-submitted questions was too soft on Hartley and did not allow for a frank discussion of the issue at hand.

“The friendly conversation and restrictive Zoom platform, prevented students from speaking their minds and nothing she said made a difference or showed she supported this necessary/overdo change,” Rasmussen explained. “All I learned from that meeting last night is she doesn’t care about student or faculty voices. So why should the board of trustees?”

Senior Andrew Stez appreciated Hartley’s willingness to address the issue of human sexuality at SPU, something past administrators have failed to do. With that being said, he did not appreciate Hartley’s framing of LGBTQIA+ issues as something people can debate and disagree on.

“If you have 100 people in a room and they are all straight and they are dealing with this issue, to them it’s a small issue,” Stez said. “(SPU) can have those people who have that different view … but you can’t have someone in the room who’s actually that thing. And you’re not going to get any change if there’s not that person in the room.”

Alumni Spencer Vigil, who graduated in 2019, believes Hartley used a strategy at the town hall that he says SPU has been using as an institution throughout its history: using Christianity as an excuse to avoid accountability.

“SPU as a spiritual institution often uses christianity as an excuse to often bypass accountability and I kinda felt like that was what that whole conversation was last night,” Vigil said. “It takes away the validation of an experience.”

Despite Hartley’s willingness to talk, many students across campus felt like she failed to properly address the issue of LGBTQIA+ discrimination on the SPU campus. This includes a perceived double standard that the University holds for students, but not faculty.

“As a gay person on campus, it seems really weird to me how they would be fine with students being gay, but then not having a professor,” Stez said. “There’s gay student leaders and there’s gay people who work in an office building, or like in facilities. There’s people everywhere on this campus that somehow fit the LGBTQ+ umbrella. If we can’t be honest, how do you expect change?”