• Common Ground Controversy

    November 14, 2012

    Opinion by Katherine Vanlandingham

    George Fox University has faced harsh criticism the past few weeks for acting on nothing more than what they hold to be true.

    In early October a group known as Common Ground, a student-run organization that represents and serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community at GFU applied for club charter status but were quickly shot down by members of Associated Student Community and denied status.

    Common Ground has all the right intentions, following the GFU mission statement and acting as nothing more than a support group for this community of students, but even so I think GFU has every right to delegate what clubs to support and what groups to overlook.

    As a Quaker school, GFU is biblically rooted. The bible clearly labels homosexuality as a sin on multiple occasions. Obviously people who struggle with such things are no less valuable and no less loved by our Savior, but such actions have no place in the kingdom of God.

    Even though Common Ground claims to not support homosexuality, GFU has an obligation to hold true to biblical truths and error on the side of caution when it comes to allowing potentially controversial and questionable to run on campus grounds.

    Though many GFU students do not share the university’s stance on homosexuality and sexuality in general, we must all respect the institutional stance, as all have signed contracts agreeing to live consistently with these teachings. Making this commitment rules out our right to argue with GFU policies concerning the issue.

    Our university holds obligations not only to its students but to their alumni and other supporters; allowing such clubs on campus has the potential to create issues in these relationships and bring to life a lifestyle on campus that has the potential to be harmful to student’s Christian walk.

    GFU recently released a written response to the whole LGBTQ controversy in which they clearly state that every individual is valued no matter what his or her sexual orientation may be and that they plan to respect these individuals, sending out an apology to all who may have been personally offended by their actions.

    I’m not saying the decision to deny these students club charter was necessarily the right thing to do, but it can certainly be justified and should not diminish the reputation of our school.

    Opinion by Alexis Christopherson

    There are few organizations on campus that provide such an open arena for discussion. Common Ground is one of those organizations. Since late last year they have given an otherwise unheard group on campus the opportunity to share in a safe and protected zone.

    Especially on a Christian campus like ours, where anything LGBTQ can be taboo, Common Ground provides the space for a clear discussion. They strive “to cultivate a safe space in which LGBTQ individuals feel at home” as they said in their 2012 resolves, a response to ASC’s decision to not let Common Ground be chartered.

    I am not writing to condemn ASC. Their reasoning for not allowing Common Ground to be chartered is understandable given their position on campus and within Student Life. However, I do think a second look is warranted in their opinions of the club.

    There is a need on campus for some sort of LGBTQ group, that’s why Common Ground was formed in the first place. Whether or not they advocate for policy changes or to convince George Fox to change their view on homosexuality, what they provide for the student body at George Fox is vital. We all need a place to talk. That’s why we have Life Groups, floor Bible studies, friends, and journals.

    There are many clubs and groups on campus that cater to various groups. Search the list of clubs on the ASC website and you’ll see a variety to groups of people with all sorts of distinguishing factors. Isn’t the LGBTQ group just as important as those?

    Maybe they won’t get chartered, but part of the college experience is broadening our horizons and opening our minds and thought processes. And even if we disagree with the validity of LGBTQ or the ethics of the issue, they are still an important part of the George Fox community. They do not rob us of our Christ-like community; in fact, they make us better.

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