The following letter is written by Tom Apostolacus. Tom is from Downingtown, PA and is a junior at Eastern University double majoring in Theology and Philosophy with a minor in Gender Studies.
Hey Dr. Duffett,
I’m going to be quite frank with you. I am livid. I am scared. I do not feel safe. My name is Tom Apostolacus. I’m a 3rd year student at Eastern, studying theology, philosophy, and gender studies. I also identify as genderqueer.
Your recent request to opt out of federal anti-discrimination laws is audacious, albeit utterly unsurprising. You have outed yourself as uncaring and egregiously ignorant. I was hoping the administration had hired a president who had the well-being and safety of Eastern’s students and faculty in mind, but instead justified my cynicism and skepticism towards everyone around me, including towards you. You have chosen to side with an oppressive majority and ignored how these actions contribute to harboring a hostile and terrifying environment for queer people, such as myself, on campus and in society at large. Continue reading
Today, we’re announcing a new section for the OneEastern website. Dr. Duffett’s signature on a letter asking for an exemption to a ban on discrimination, as well as his subsequent reasoning for why he signed the letter- both have caused a number of passionate responses to be written and shared through email and social media. We believe these voices are important, and as a result, have created a new section of the website for “Responses to Dr. Duffett“. The concept is simple, we hope to bring together as many responses as possible to a single place so that it is easy to see how deeply Eastern University’s policies affect its community, and so that we each recognize that we are not alone.
Posts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to include a photo, and brief bio for the post, that would be welcome. We will continually update the post page, and plan to regularly feature responses on the front page of website.
And the petition asking Dr. Duffett to rescind his request for the ability to discriminate against LGBT individuals at Eastern University is still active at http://bit.ly/1tfHwc8.
Recently, 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.
UPDATE 04/23/14: Below is an open email to Dr. Tony Campolo. We currently have 204 co-signors! Please stand with us! To add your name as a co-signor, please send an email to email@example.com with your name and relationship to Eastern University (i.e. “Joe Smith, Class of 2013” or “Jane Smith, Parent of 2013 Graduate” or “Jamie Smith, Professor of History”).
April 10, 2013
Dear Dr. Campolo,
The Eastern University community loves you. For decades, you have been a voice for the marginalized, the oppressed, and the ignored; and you have earned the deepest respect and appreciation of the Eastern University community. It is in that light that I write this letter asking for your clear and public support for all members of the Eastern University community regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, Eastern University is not a safe place for sexual minorities because the university refuses to guarantee that they will be free from discrimination.
We are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Michelle Katzman!
I want to take some time to thank my fellow writers who have posted articles on behalf of Refuge and OneEastern. Your words are encouraging and remind me that I was not alone in any of my experiences at Eastern. There were many times I was singled out on campus, but somehow I never felt alone. I always knew which friends, groups, and professors I could turn to.
Even though I graduated in 2010, I still return to Eastern from time to time. During one of my most recent visits, I attended Refuge. This was 3 years after graduating and I knew very few people on campus at this point. To my surprise, many of the group members greeted me by name and many had already heard of my story.
We are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Adam Woods!
Editor’s Note: While we recognize and value views such as Adam’s within the Eastern community, we would like to note that our mission is first and foremost to be a sanctuary to all–sides or not.
I’m tired of watching the news to see what prominent people will say about my value as a person. I’m tired of reading blog posts and articles about what Christians should do about the gays. I’m especially tired of how each post engenders the same played-out debate among its commenters.
We are excited to welcome aboard Angélique Gravely, who will serve as OneEastern’s Editor (in addition, unavoidably, to other roles)! Angélique is a recent 2013 graduate of Eastern University where she double-majored in English and Psychology. She was also a recent guest contributor to OneEastern with her post, “A Queer Experience of Christian College”. Angélique will be managing all of the posts on the website. So, if you know of someone in the Eastern University community who has a post to contribute, send them to Angélique at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome, Angélique!
We are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Angélique Gravely! Angélique is a 2013 graduate of Eastern University.
I have this bad habit of telling myself that my personal suffering or experiences of injustice are unimportant, because they are not always the kind of suffering discussed. They’re not that deep traumatic suffering which crushes your heart and shakes your soul when you acknowledge their existence; therefore, my experiences must be trivial regardless of how deeply they still hurt me. I tend to feel like my suffering is not bad enough to share with people outside my close friend group because there are so many people who suffer more;thus,I keep parts of my story to myself in order to make room for those people who really deserve to have their stories heard.
Well, I’m trying to get over that which is why I want to write about my problems with the Christian college I attended. Problems rooted in the fact that I’m queer.
We are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Jen Kane! Jen is a 2011 graduate of Eastern University.
This post is a story. In a way, it is my story. And in a way, it is bigger than my story.
I was raised in the suburbs and went to public schools. I spent summers at the beach. I watched romantic comedies with my friends at sleepovers. I went on dates with boys. And like many other childhoods, mine included going to church. During my adolescent years, that meant that I came to understand homosexuality as a sin. That was the teaching of my faith tradition. But that is just the beginning of the story. This, like many other stories of life, is a journey.
A few weeks ago, we posted “An Open Letter to Dr. Tony Campolo” asking him to stand with us and to support an anti-discrimination policy at Eastern University for sexual minorities. Below is Dr. Campolo’s reply. Please stand with us! Our original letter currently has 187 co-signors! To add your name as a co-signor, please send an email to email@example.com with your name and relationship to Eastern University (i.e. “Joe Smith, Class of 2013” or “Jane Smith, Parent of 2013 Graduate” or “Jamie Smith, Professor of History”). Also feel free to leave comments below!
April 26, 2013
I am responding to the open letter addressed to me from OneEastern, a group of Eastern University alumni, regarding the hopes and fears of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people who attend Eastern University, or will be attending the university in the future.