End Discriminatory Treatment of LGBTQ+ Students at SPU #NoMoreSPU
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A Case of Clear Discrimination
One day after Andy Spalletta (They/Them) was elected as Vice President of Ministries (VPM) in ASSP, they were falsely charged with violating student conduct policy. On May 10 of 2018, the student body at Seattle Pacific University got notice that “due to unforeseen circumstances” Andy Spalletta would no longer serve as the VPM. What was not communicated publically is that Andy was forced out of office after Residence Life charged Andy with a false alcohol/drug violation from fall quarter. It is not coincidental that this charge was made immediately after Andy, who would have been the first openly queer and trans student to hold the VPM position, was elected.
Prior to these allegations, Andy experienced being perceived by institutional leaders as a difficult person to work with and a threat to the school based on their identities, character, and affirming platform. Andy has been treated as an individual who doesn’t fit into the “pure” image of an SPU student because they are an out, proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Because SPU’s Statement on Human Sexuality dictates “that sexual experience is intended between a man and a woman” and that this definition is based on “the ancient and historic teaching of Christian scriptures,” Andy’s identity as a queer & trans Christian poses a significant challenge to the university’s definition of faith and community. It is clear that the institution sought to remove Andy from ASSP Core rather than to have them in a role that would help create a more inclusive campus environment.
Recently, several other student leaders who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and/or POC have been targeted and charged with similar allegations. This is a clear example of discrimination and it cannot be tolerated.
Here are the facts:
- The case was built solely by hearsay and there is no tangible evidence that Andy violated university policy.
- Andy was notified of the report immediately after the student government election results, months after the false violations would have taken place.
- Andy has testimonies and tangible evidence proving that they were out of town nearly every weekend when the alleged incident took place. This evidence was denied by Residence Life.
- Andy was told that unless they had tangible evidence that they were out of Washington, Residence Life would find them guilty. Andy was also told that evidence of them being in the Tacoma area could be judged as dismissible. They were guilty until proven innocent.
Why did Residence Life of SPU charge Andy if there was no tangible evidence?
SPU operates with a code of conduct and an accountability process that allows each case’s outcome to be determined by a staff member in Residence Life. They act as the sole judge and jury of every case.
What can go wrong with that?
Residence Life and the accountability process is a system that claims to be designed to protect students, but instead it can be used to discriminate against minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community (SPU's non-discrimination policy not does not protect LGBTQ+ students).This means marginalized students are more likely to be found guilty on the basis of implicit bias. It seems ‘reasonable’ that these students are guilty to campus staff since they are already perceived as not fitting into SPU’s ideal student image.
To put this case in perspective, there are documented cases of SPU allowing sexual predators to remain on campus, facing little to no consequences for their actions. This is not justice; it is discrimination.
What We Want
This is what we are asking from SPU, its Residence Life system, and the ASSP advisors:
1. To drop the charges against Andy and to stop targeting LQBTQ+ student leaders.
2. Reinstate Andy as Vice President of Ministries in ASSP Core.
3. To change the culture, treatment, and policies toward LGBTQ+ students.
Seattle Pacific University, we are calling for all your help so that we can ensure that there will be no more injustices toward LGBTQ+ students.
Andy also wants to be vulnerable with everyone. This whole thing has been a monumental mental stressor on them. It has affected their mental health negatively, to the extent that they are strongly considering dropping out of SPU after this quarter. For them, the benefit of a degree from SPU means nothing if the institution is so opposed to having a queer and trans person in a student ministry leadership position.
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