The fight for equality continues at University of Portland. Last Thursday, February 28, almost a hundred students and I stood from 12 -2pm in the main quad of UP in silent protest of the university’s current Non-Discrimination Policy. With signs and purple duct tape crossed over our mouths, we stood in solidarity with those who feel silenced and voiceless on campus.
While Fr. Ron Wasowski told a protester with purple equal signs painted on that she had “some smudges” on her face with a cool smile, other faculty proved to be supportive and enthusiastic about the demonstration, whether they watched, walked around with hugs and smiles, or actually joined in standing alongside the protesters, like Professor Martin Monto and Professor Jeff Gauthier.
The demonstration proved to show how students and faculty can unite in a common cause to make everyone- students, teachers, and faculty- at UP, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feel included and safe on campus.
In that Thursday morning’s Beacon, Fr. Bill Beauchamp included a letter to the UP population explaining that though the school’s Non-Discrimination Policy does not legally bind the school to not discriminate against those of different sexual orientations or gender identities, the school does include a non-legally binding Statement of Inclusion that offers full acceptance and inclusion of everyone on campus, including those of different sexual orientations or gender identities.
While the Statement of Inclusion was an important stepping-stone for UP and should not be overlooked, members of the RPP movement find it insufficient because of its lack of legal-binding status. Beauchamp claims that the school cannot change the Non-Discrimination Policy because it would then be condoning the sexual acts that the Catholic Church do not condone, which would lead to legal complications. But if so, why have other holy cross schools such as, Gonzaga, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, Creighton, Stonehill College, and St. Edward’s College, changed their Non-Discrimination Policies to be more inclusive?