Pepperdine: Overturn Your Decision to Deny Recognition to LGBT Students
  • Petitioning The Administrators and the Board of Regents of Pepperdine University

This petition will be delivered to:

The Administrators and the Board of Regents of Pepperdine University

Pepperdine: Overturn Your Decision to Deny Recognition to LGBT Students

    1. Petition by

      Alexander Cooper

      Malibu, CA

For over a year, Pepperdine’s administration has been in negotiations with the students of Reach OUT, an unrecognized gay-straight alliance, in an effort to promote inclusivity toward LGBT students.

Pepperdine students often struggle to be honest about their sexual orientation because they fear rejection from their peers as well as the risk of losing their scholarships and leadership opportunities. Moreover, professors do not feel comfortable speaking on the issue, worrying that they will be denied tenure or research grants.

Until now, the university’s policies have created an atmosphere of silence and anxiety that alienates not only the LGBT student population but also anyone concerned for their well-being. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) likewise expressed unease in its 2011 accreditation report that Pepperdine’s “climate of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’” prevents it from appearing “safe for open discourse.”

Administrators have established a Building Bridges committee in response to some of these concerns, but the committee is primarily generating recommendations that, even if adopted, would not provide LGBT students with a sense of community.

That is why on November 9 Reach OUT applied to become a student organization. On December 13, however, administrators rejected the application. This is the fourth time that a gay-straight alliance has been denied or discouraged from applying.

Administrators are concerned that recognition of Reach OUT would “imply to many that Pepperdine is not honoring our affiliation with the Churches of Christ,” according to a statement released by the Office of Student Affairs. Reach OUT’s mission, however, is not antithetical to the religious mission of the university. In fact, we respect and reinforce it.

First, Reach OUT states explicitly in its constitution that it does not endorse sexual activity. Administrators, however, also want Reach OUT to explicitly condemn sexual activity. Meanwhile, they do not demand that other student groups (including political groups and the student newspaper, the Graphic) reiterate all of Pepperdine’s stances.

Second, Reach OUT underlines the university’s affirmation statement that “truth has nothing to fear from investigation” by providing students with an open forum to discuss LGBT issues.

Third, we reflect President Andrew K. Benton’s hope, expressed in his 2001 statement Envisioning a Bold Future, that Pepperdine will become a “clear reflection of the communities we serve” by creating a safe space where LGBT and straight students can share their experiences with others who have walked the same journey. We strive to meet all students where they are, whether they come from traditional backgrounds or otherwise, so that they feel at home in Pepperdine’s community.

Finally, by dispelling the negative stereotypes of LGBT issues that still abound at Pepperdine, we help to ensure that all Pepperdine students feel loved and respected.

For these reasons, Pepperdine should rescind its previous decision and instead grant equal recognition to LGBT students by approving Reach OUT’s application.

* Anyone may sign, but please note in the petition if you are a Pepperdine student, alumni, staff member, faculty member, a member of the Church of Christ, or otherwise affiliated with the university. If you have any questions, please e-mail Alexander Cooper or Lindsay Jakows at

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 10,000 signatures
    2. Pepperdine School of Law formally recognizes LGBT legal society

      Alexander Cooper
      Petition Organizer

      On April 17, after two years of hard work by law students, Pepperdine's School of Law finally recognized an LGBT legal society! Those of us at Seaver College hope that our institute will follow.

    3. Reached 8,000 signatures
    4. Majority of students & Seaver SGA support Reach OUT

      Alexander Cooper
      Petition Organizer

      On April 5, the Student Government Association of Seaver College (Pepperdine's undergraduate campus) passed a resolution encouraging administrators to recognize Reach OUT. It did so after conducting a survey that found that 61% of students support Reach OUT!

    5. Reached 7,500 signatures
    6. Pepperdine Graduate School of Ed. and Psych., Theatre Support Reach OUT

      Alexander Cooper
      Petition Organizer

      During the last couple of weeks, the Diversity Council of Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP), the Psy. D. student government association of GSEP, and the Theatre Faculty all publicly supported Reach OUT and expressed concerns about Pepperdine's decision to reject Reach OUT.

    7. Reaching OUT for Liberty, Property, and Petition

      Michael Jones
      Senior Campaign Director

      Petition author Alexander Cooper writes about why Pepperdine should recognize a gay-straight alliance on campus.

    8. Reached 6,000 signatures
    9. Negotiating with the LGBT Community at Pepperdine University

      Alexander Cooper
      Petition Organizer

      A powerful article from a law school alumna about how Pepperdine's "don't ask, don't tell" environment has caused secrecy among faculty and even contributed to the suicide of a gay 2L she knew. She concludes that, until Reach OUT is recognized, she will stop donating to and supporting Pepperdine, encouraging other alumni to do the same. Please share!

    10. Reached 5,000 signatures
    11. Reach OUT recognition denied, LGBT advocates turn to online petition

      Alexander Cooper
      Petition Organizer

      Check out this article from Pepperdine's student newspaper, the Graphic, for more details on our denial and some of the work that we've done.

    12. LGBT Pepperdine Students Fight for Recognition

      Michael Jones
      Senior Campaign Director

      Check out this Advocate article talking about how students at Pepperdine are organizing to get a gay-straight alliance recognized.

    13. Reached 1,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Olivia Cancelli TWINSBURG, OH
      • 3 days ago

      Gay rights are an important issue to you

    • Tegan Giesel GRIDLEY, IL
      • 25 days ago

      The way you treat the least of these is how you treat Christ. I'm sure no one would have killed him if he had practiced don't ask don't tell about his weird identity. But He didn't.

    • Brynn Cook SIMI VALLEY, CA
      • about 1 month ago

      Every student has an equally important voice

    • Lee Hirsch FRANKLIN PARK, IL
      • about 1 month ago

      97% of my friends are LGBT

    • Luis Yuriar ESCONDIDO, CA
      • 2 months ago

      Horrible place.


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