President Duffett seeks right to discriminate against LGBT individuals at Eastern University

261310_10151523514365020_675986371_nRecently, Gordon College, a Christian school near Boston, MA, has been in the news after its president signed a letter asking for exemption to a ban against discrimination. While Gordon College received much attention, it is not the only higher education institution to sign such a letter. Eastern University’s President Robert Duffett also co-signed a letter, which seeks the right for Eastern University to discriminate against LGBT individuals.1 Such an exemption would allow Eastern University to discriminate against LGBT students, faculty, and staff.  While Dr. Duffett’s request for the ability to discriminate is disturbing, it is also troubling that his request has not been widely shared with the Eastern University community.  Further, it is also worth noting that Gordon College is potentially jeopardizing their accreditation… something that could very easily also happen to Eastern University.

Below is a petition asking Dr. Duffett to rescind his request for the ability to discriminate against LGBT individuals. Please sign the petition, and ask your family and friends to join us!

Petition to Rescind Eastern University’s Request for Right to Discriminate

UPDATE: (7/18, 7:31PM) Dr. Duffett has issued the following response:

To all our EU alumni, employees, students and others who are concerned about my signature on the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance letter to President Obama,

Our position has not changed; Eastern University will not discriminate against students or employees based on sexual orientation.

One of the most significant theological tenets of the Baptist movement is the separation of Church and State. This means no government has the right to determine theological views and practices of religious institutions. I signed the petition with this Baptist theological conviction in mind.

The wall of separation that President Jefferson affirmed to the Danbury Baptists must be maintained to the benefit of society and all Christian institutions. It is precisely this wall
that has allowed Eastern University to flourish for almost 90 years.

Bob Duffett



27 thoughts on “President Duffett seeks right to discriminate against LGBT individuals at Eastern University

  1. Now that I go to a public school, for my master program, I finding completely outrageous that Eastern University continues to have this offensive and discriminatory policies. I am shameful to say that I attended to this school, and that REFUGE was not even knowledge for being a club. I somehow still feel like Eastern is my family and I must do something to improve it. We cannot continue to have hostile environments for the LGBTQI community. This has to STOP!

  2. You would think an “Institution of Higher Learning” would take the higher road approach to human and civil rights…..what a disgrace

  3. Class of 2008. It is so upsetting to learn that the school that introduced me to social justice is pro-discriminating against those who identify as LGBT. I pray that Dr. Duffett comes to realize such a stance is rooted in hate, prejudice, and secularism.

  4. As a BLACK woman who has experienced discrimination I find such a request for permission to discriminate disturbing. If such a request was submitted and supported by President Duffett to seek the right of Eastern University to discriminate against any individual for any reason, this saddens me. Christ has called us to love one another as he has loved us… PERIOD.

  5. This is a disgrace. I’m saddened that I graduated from a school that encourages social justice but does not practice what they literally preach. Students should join together and oppose such behavior. Your money is what talks. If the students stand together and parents stop funding this institution something must be done.

  6. My daughter and son-in-law both graduated from Eastern. The university which they attended was an inclusive, welcoming place of higher learning. I was proud that they were part of the Eastern community. This request to discriminate makes me ashamed of this college and what it may stand for in the future.

  7. It is one thing to have different theological beliefs or disagreements of how to practice your Christian faith. It is another thing to put in place a policy that forces that belief on every member in the University by outright defending discrimination and oppression of others. In the same way Eastern hires women as teachers despite some Christians thinking that women should not teach, Eastern should not allow a specific theological belief to justify the violation of rights and promotion of violence against the LGBTQI community–whether some donors may happen to hold that belief. As an 2012 alumni, I am ashamed and deeply saddened by this.

  8. Well now I know not to tell people where I graduated from! I definitely do not want my name associated with that bigot’s views.

  9. This makes me sick. Christ asked us to love. Since when do the words “discrimination” and “exclusion” equate to loving each other? Tell me where in the Bible it says that you should love and accept people unless you disagree with who they are and how they live their life? I am extremely disappointed in the president of Eastern trying to discriminate against an entire community based on whatever his personal beliefs are. I pray that his eyes and his mind are opened to love and accept ALL people.

  10. If it is true that Dr. Duffett made this request, I am saddened, embarrassed, and angered. As a faculty member who teaches both diversity and social justice courses and the former Assistant to the Provost for Multicultural Concerns I am appalled at such a stance. This kind of request is certainly not in keeping with Eastern’s mission: Faith, Reason & JUSTICE. If Eastern University wants to remain relevant and survive beyond the 20th century, the administration must renew it’s views and denounce discrimination in every form. Though not surprising, it is quite appalling that any leader in this day and time would hold the view that discrimination is acceptable, especially in the name/body of Christ. This behavior is unacademic and unChrist-like. Shameful.

    • For the record, Eastern has had a female president – Roberta Hestenes became the first female president of Eastern in 1987. Eastern was the first school in the CCCU to have a female president. Hopefully we can be that progressive again.

  11. I am a proud gay Christian who is angered by the new president’s stand against gay Christians! I am certain that the majority of Eastern’s community does not support his views. Eastern has been a more open, accepting Christian school and not a rubber stamp of the American Baptist Church on issues. Eastern needs a president who unites and not divides Eastern! There are so many urgent, vital issues that he needs to address, but this was a huge mistake. He has lost my support and respect. Let’s pray that God will send us a replacement for him who leads with a spirit of unity and love.

    • Exactly. They need to replace him. When I called him, he just kept saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” as if to pacify me. Telling me that you’re sorry I feel a certain way does not negate the fact that you reserved the right to discriminate by signing that letter. What an ass.

  12. Having always been a supporter of Eastern University, I was saddened and angry by this request to discriminate against LGBT individuals. I had hoped my grandson would become a student at Eastern but now I’m not so sure.

  13. Eastern, Gordon and other Christian schools like them should tread very carefully here. There are enough GAY ALUMS with sexual stories to tell about faculty, staff and clergy to bring quite a few righteous believers to their knees, and not like they were. This is serious business and one of these days, as with Catholic Clergy Sex Scandals the same will occur with Christian colleges and universities. As the Bible says, nothing will remain hidden, everything will be shouted from the rooftops. It will come as a great surprise to many, to find out who was having sex with whom and where. Righteous men and women, take note.

  14. I graduated in 2003, and when I came out senior year, I lost all of my friends except for one. Eastern did the Laramie Project as a play that year, and the school newspaper did an article on lgbt students, featuring a gay man and myself. A ‘friend’ actually told me after I came out that she wouldn’t hug me anymore because of what people would think of her. My own roommate of 3 years would not let me attend her wedding because the minister wouldn’t marry her if I were there. Duffy Robbins dropped my grade from an A to a C, with no change in my work quality. I was harassed by the chaplain (can’t remember his name, must have blocked it out). Someone wrote ‘dike’ on my dry erase board outside my room (and yes, they spelled it like that). I am not surprised that they are taking this stand, to openly discriminate. Social justice, my ass. I want my $100,000 tuition back.

  15. So sorry for what you went through. You are loved! You are a trail blazer. Don’t under estimate the amazing impact you had and have on so many students.
    Thank you for your courage!
    Class of ‘ 81

  16. Eastern University students: I just had an interesting phone conversation with President Duffett. He is proud of signing the letter that upholds the right to discriminate against LGBT students and staff. He said that it’s his ‘first amendment right’ and that ‘government should be separate from state.’ I told him that since the school accepts tax breaks and grant money, that he should uphold the rights to all people. He disagrees. Then I said, regardless of money issues, he should not discriminate against people, and he said that he is upholding what the school believes. I said that because of what he signed, my degree is less valuable and I’m embarrassed of it now. I told him that he wants the right to discriminate, but he fully accepts the tuition of gay students, like me. He said that the school welcomes all students, and I told him of course it does, because they pay them. I told him that he will be embarrassed of signing this letter in 20 years, because he will look back and realize it was just like being against interracial marriage in the 1960’s. It was impossible talking to him. He is proud of his ignorance. Please call him and have the conversation yourself: 610-341-5800.

  17. I am the parent of three Eastern alumni, one of whom is currently faculty/staff. When our children were looking for colleges in the 1990’s Eastern stood out as a Christian college that “got” it….one that understood Christ’s mandate to love, service and justice. Although my husband and I were both Houghton graduates we encouraged our children to apply to Eastern because of the emphasis on justice ministry. I am so extremely disappointed to see that the Eastern name has been attached to this discriminatory letter to the president. Please listen to the greater Eastern community and reconsider this position.

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