An organization that advocates for the rights of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people,” will visit campus for the second time in four years this semester. Soulforce members will travel for almost two months on their tour of 13 universities in more than a dozen states.
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president for Student Life and dean of students, said Soulforce contacted the universityand requested permission to stop at ACU on Apr. 9 as part of the 2010 Equality Ride.
“This is an opportunity for us to really communicate our core values, and talk about their concerns and needs while showing the love of Christ,” Thompson said. “And this is a university. Our students should be able to deal with tough issues.”
ACU policy prohibits students from engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual in nature, but Thompson said the university addresses infractions with an “umbrella approach.” Thompson said the administration follows the philosophy of discipline, which is outlined in the student handbook, handling each incident confidentially and on a case-by-case basis.
Many ACU students who experience same-sex attraction have met together weekly with Dr. Sally Gary, assistant professor of communication, for the past seven years.
“It does a lot of good to open the conversation and be willing to listen to people’s hearts, and the pain that’s behind a lot of this,” Gary said.
Gary, founder of CenterPeace, said the issues surrounding Soulforce’s visit cannot be solved in a day, but the university is moving in the right direction by welcoming the organization and offering constructive, respectful dialogue.
“The fact that I am fulltime faculty but I also work with an independent ministry that ACU supports, that is a great reflection of where we are,” Gary said.
Soulforce will spend Apr. 7-8 on Hardin Simmons University’s campus before arriving at ACU. Jason Groves, assistant vice president for marketing, said officials from the two universities have met and are discussing possible collaborative efforts.
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