Board debates human sexuality statement

Students want the Board of Trustees’ decision on the human sexuality statement to take student, faculty, and staff stances into consideration

Kit Nowicki, Staff Writer

ASSP President José Flores met with the Board of Trustees to represent the student body in the student, faculty, and staff request to remove the Statement on Human Sexuality.

“That executive meeting was essentially just them hearing the perspective on three different voices from three different parts of campus, and since I’m the ASSP President, they decided that I was the person to speak on behalf of what the student perspective is like,” said Flores.

Don Mortenson was previously the Senior Vice President for Planning and Administration at SPU. In 2018, after 38 years at SPU, he became the Staff Secretary for the school’s Board of Trustees. (Courtesy of Seattle Pacific University)

The meeting consisted of presentations by Faculty Chair Carlene Brown, Staff Council President Gina Whitehouse, and ASSP President José Flores. In representation of the faculty, staff, and student body, they asked the Board of Trustees to remove the statement on human sexuality.

Flores said that each presenter was granted 10-12 minutes to state their claim. His presentation expressed to the board that the overwhelming majority of SPU students want to see the statement removed.

According to Staff Specialist for the Board of Trustees Don Mortenson, SPU’s board has been put together to provide the public assurance that things are running properly, and they are upholding SPU’s relationship with the Free Methodist Church.

“They are the top body that governs the institution,” said Mortenson.

The Board of Trustees at SPU is composed of 18 volunteers, five of which are the legal officers of the university. Of these 18 board members, President Dan Martin is the only paid staff. Board members have three-year terms and can serve a total of nine years. Board members are expected to attest to the university’s statement of faith and to contribute financially.

“They have fiduciary duty, which means they ultimately have the trust of the public to ensure that things go right at SPU,” said Mortenson. “One way they talk about it is they serve to ensure that everything is done in the best interest of the long term interests of the university, its students, and faculty.”

Mortenson also added that there is diversity among the board with eight members being people of color and five being women.

The lawsuit filed by adjunct professor Jeaux Rinedahl in January reignited discussion of the Statement on Human Sexuality among all on campus, resulting in the topic being discussed during the board’s quarterly meeting.

They met last week in a closed session to discuss whether to keep or remove the human sexuality statement in addition to their usual Winter Quarter financial planning.

The Board of Trustees usually gathers four times a year to overseer the administration of the university. (Sydney Lorton)

In a statement issued to the public on March 1, the SPU Board of Trustees said they will need to schedule a meeting between now and their annual Spring Quarter to review and consider the input they’ve received from students, staff, and faculty.

“Following the meeting, we’re working to gather up all the different statements that were made and all the letters that were made, and we’re trying to compile them and give them to the board to read for their consideration post the meeting,” said Flores.

Junior Biochemistry major, Savannah Mather would like to see better student representation on administrative-level committees.

In a post on her Instagram page, Mather asked Trustee Daryl Miller to step down from his position because of the large sums of money he donates to Republican campaigns, including Donald Trump’s.

“I really do believe that his values of supporting a presidential candidate that has sparked the growth of movements like white supremacy should not be representing our school when our school is trying to sell a diverse, progressive image,” said Mather. “I just don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Mather said that if Miller doesn’t step down, SPU should consider taking action to replace him with someone who better represents the majority of the student body.

“It’s definitely not new information,” said Mather. “A lot of students of color have already acknowledged that and talked about that, but because of the power imbalances in our school that hasn’t been heard. So I just wanted to call that out.”