From the petition creator:
The following is from a press release which can be found at http://vikingfusion.berry.edu/news/listen-officially-recognized-at-berry/
After seeking official approval for more than a decade, a campus-wide email sent the morning of September 13, 2012 by College President Stephen R. Briggs announced that LISTEN, Berry’s LGBT awareness group, has been approved for official recognition as a campus organization. Between 10 and 11 a.m., Briggs sent the email to Berry faculty, staff and students. The email stated that a committee had been formed at the beginning of the summer to “find a way forward that improves our community as a place to live, study and work, one that acknowledges the reality and depth of differences of belief” in regard to the renewed conversation at the end of the semester about the college’s relationship with LISTEN. At the conclusion of their work, the committee submitted a report, dated Sept. 4, 2012 to Briggs. In the report, the committee made three recommendations, which Briggs summarized in the campus-wide email as follows: “to recognize Listen as a student organization for support and education on LGBT issues; to strengthen the culture and study of Christianity through the work of the Chaplain’s Office; and to embrace the tension of controversial issues as a means to educate our campus community.”
UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 17, a group of faculty met with Berry College’s president and other administrators to discuss the status of Listen, Berry’s unofficial LGBT group. The meeting was productive and pointed to a commitment on the part of the college to move Listen towards an official student group in a timely, though not immediate, manner. We are hopeful about the outcome of this meeting and eagerly await the achievement of our goal of official recognition.
In the meantime, however, we also think it is important to continue to demonstrate to Berry College’s administration, campus community, board of trustees, and broader interested parties that support for granting Listen official status is both strong and widespread. Thus we ask that you continue to sign this petition and circulate it to others who support the college’s LGBT community. If you have a direct connection to Berry, please consider leaving a brief reason why you are signing the petition. Thank you so much to all who signed already! Your support is crucial. Keep it going!
On March 26th, 2012, a hate crime on campus was accompanied by a note stating "faggot nigger fuck off". There has been discourse on campus about the repulsive racial slur, as there should. However, there has been too little about the homophobic slur, which could in part be attributed to the fact that there is not a school-sanctioned, official LGBT group on campus. This petition is to call all Berry Faculty/Staff/Alums,current students and others to action to let our voices be heard. Dr. John Countryman's campus-wide email can and should be used as a catalyst to further this cause, and we are here to say that the time has come for LISTEN to be an official organization.
What is LISTEN?
•LISTEN is a student group that brings together straight and LGBT students to foster discussion of sexual orientation and to provide support for LGBT students.
The following is a short history of LISTEN:
•In the fall of 2003,a small group of straight students began to organize support for a student group that would bring together straight and LGBT students to foster discussion of sexual identity and to provide support for LGBT students. They founded LISTEN in 2003.
•LISTEN was approved by both the Student Life Council and former President Scott Colley in 2004; the Board of Trustees intervened and denied LISTEN club status on the stated grounds that it is an “advocacy” group.
•Leaders from the group most recently held a meeting with President Briggs during the first week in May 2008 to discuss LISTEN. The club still does not have official status and there is no indication that official status will be forthcoming anytime soon.
Currently, the Dean of Students office has been offering some limited support for GLBT students and their allies. Students have been able to reserve meeting places on campus, have meetings/events occasionally announced campus-wide through that office, and receive limited funding for educational programs. The Dean of Students office has also supported a “Safe Spaces” training program for interested faculty and staff. However, the name “Listen” is not permitted to be used in announcing any of these activities and the group is discouraged from organizing itself – electing officers, developing the Constitution, etc., and any funds provided are at the discretion of the office and do not equal those of other “official” student organizations.