Sunday, December 6, 2015

Carson-Newman, what happened?

Dear CN,
We met one summer day in the early 1990s. My mother and I visited your campus and I was smitten by the friendly faces, pretty grounds, and interesting professors. During my time as an undergraduate, I enjoyed many extra-curricular activities. I made lifelong friends, including my wife. My professors challenged me to think more deeply about important issues. The campus ministers pushed me to be more loving and inclusive.

Now, you have done this. Why? Randall O’Brien, presumably speaking with the support of trustees, says that CN is a Christian school. Then, why not act more Christ-like? In the Bible, Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The new exemption from DOE Title IX, allows the school to ban pregnant and parenting students and students based on their sexual orientation or identity. The waiver allows the school to exclude their neighbor. Instead of educating, the exemption paves the way for indoctrinating. The exemption is unloving and exclusive. It is antithetical to the Jesus represented in the Gospels.

The move is disappointing and shameful. It sounds homophobic, sexist, and, perhaps, even misogynistic. It is step toward admitting only students who already share like qualities. CN, if your goal is to have a homogenous student body, you are moving in the right direction. When I was a student, we celebrated diversity. We sought to attract students from a greater variety of backgrounds. I was privileged to participate in a Diversity Task Force. Now, what would you ask a Diversity Task Force to do? Soon, the entire student body will look alike. This will leave students ill-prepared for life after graduation.

CN, the journey is not over. You can repent. You can turn away from your mistakes. You can reach out to people who are different from your administrators and current students. You can learn from them. When you engage openly and honestly, you might even grow. The challenge for you is to demonstrate the courage to admit this mistake, accept Title IX protection for sex-based discrimination, and seek to be an institution for justice and equality.

My prayer is for you to be more loving to all people.

Grace and peace, 
An alumni who cares

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