A student group at Georgetown University which promotes anti-LGBT views will retain its funding after facing student complaints.
The campus Student Activities Commission voted 8-4 last week to recommend official recognition status for Love Saxa, allowing it to receive University funding, which amounts to $250 annually. Campus newspaper The Hoya reported on the vote:
“The commission rejected the arguments of Chad Gasman (COL ’20) and Jasmin Ouseph (SFS ’19), who filed the formal complaint against Love Saxa on Oct. 22, by an 8-4 vote. The two student LGBTQ activists claimed the group violated university standards for student organizations by promoting its traditional marriage views on campus.
“The vote is not binding — it constitutes a recommendation to Amanda Carlton, the university’s director of student engagement, who is free to accept, amend or reject it. The students who submitted the complaint plan to appeal the commission’s recommendation by Monday night to Carlton, whose decision can in turn be appealed to Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson.”
The complainants said they will appeal the recommendation decision, claiming Love Saxa violates University standards that disallow student groups from fostering “hatred or intolerance of others because of their race, nationality, gender, religion or sexual preference.” They specifically cited an article in The Hoya in which Love Saxa’s president defended a heteronormative understanding of marriage.
Gasman criticized the decision which he found “a little ridiculous,” telling The Washington Post it was “eight straight people deciding that being pro-heterosexual-marriage-only doesn’t also mean that you’re anti-same-sex marriage.” Gasman added, “[it was] pretty telling that the only two people of color in the entire commission voted in support of us. . .Ultimately, we’re being forced to pay for people who hate us.”
Administrators at the Washington, DC school did not become involved in the matter. Rachel Pugh, the senior director for strategic communications, only said that the University recognized a vibrant student activities culture, that Love Saxa acts in a manner consistent with church teaching, and that the campus remains welcome and supportive of LGBTQ members.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, commented on Twitter about the situation at Georgetown, which is Jesuit-sponsored. As he retweeted a link from New Ways Ministry which raised the issue of free speech, he said:
“Agreed. Needless to say, I support LGBT people being treated with ‘respect, sensitivity and compassion.’ But it makes no sense to defund a campus group at a Catholic university because it espouses Catholic teaching, especially if it is doing so respectfully.”
Georgetown University has been a leader on LGBT inclusion in Catholic higher education, including its active LGBTQ resource center and welcome of transgender students. The way forward for greater inclusion and equality does not come from silencing LGBT-negative voices as long as they remain respectful. Rather it is through encounter and constructive dialogue that change occurs. While one might sharply disagree with the LGBT-negative views of Love Saxa and its members, the decision by the Student Activities Commission to retain the groups’ funding is the right one because it keeps the dialogue going.
This post is part of Bondings 2.0’s “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
For a listing of LGBT-friendly Catholic colleges and universities, which includes Georgetown University, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 6, 2017