Love this direct action that students at Seattle Pacific took at graduation to protest the president being homophobic. pic.twitter.com/PpRGS0UtBx— Mx. D. E. Anderson (@diannaeanderson) June 13, 2022
The TikTok was created by a group called EnGAYge the Culture, an LGBTQ+ activism coalition that began posting online in May to speak out against the Board of Trustees’ upholding of SPU’s “Employee Lifestyle Expectations.”
Through this standard of conduct, it’s noted that school employees must “refrain from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University’s understanding of Biblical standards, including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity.”
“We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation,” Board Chair Cedric Davis said in a statement, released May 23. “While this decision brings complex and heartfelt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith.”
Understandably, many were not pleased with this decision, including students within EnGAYge the Culture.
A quick look through the group’s social media shows how students are protesting this decision, including by publicly lambasting administrators identified as homophobes.
@engaygetheculture our local SPU homophobes! (ps. Pete has been listed under gay so don’t worry!) #Seattle #lgbtq #spu #endhomophobia @spu.assp ♬ I Hate U – SZA
However, it was a TikTok that was filmed during the private Christian college graduation ceremony, which took place June 12, that really put the group on the map.
The upload shows numerous graduates walking up to receive their diplomas from the school president before handing him a Pride flag.
“POV: the president of your university thinks being LGBTQ+ is a ‘lifestyle choice’ and a ‘morality issue’ so you decide to give him a gift at graduation,” an in-video message read.
@engaygetheculture We’ve also been sleeping outside his office for 19 days in a gay sit-in but he usually doesn’t say hi to us. #pride #pridemonth #lgbtq #gay #graduation #fyp #Seattle #changethepolicy #hiregayprofs ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey
The TikTok is caption notes that students have “been sleeping outside his office for 19 days in a gay sit-in, but he usually doesn’t say hi to us,” speaking to just how committed the activists are to protesting SPU’s stance on LGBTQ+ faculty and staff.
The SPU Protest Fund has launched a GoFundMe to collect the resources necessary to “file a lawsuit against the Board of Trustees for breach of fiduciary duty, which means they are not acting in the best interest of the organization.”
“At this point, groups within SPU have taken almost every measure they can to hold the Board accountable, with no success in changing SPU’s discriminatory policies,” a statement on the fundraiser reads. “We believe that legal action is the best course of action moving forward and are actively compiling evidence that highlights the numerous ways the Board’s decision has harmed the school and its community. This is the only way we can try and have Board members in support of upholding discriminatory policies removed from their position without them resigning on their own.”
Happy pride month! Help SPU students pursue legal action against our board of trustees. By enforcing these homophobic policies (despite overwhelming opposition from the campus), the board is jeopardizing the future of our university. RT and share! https://t.co/s55H6UKifW
— engaygetheculture (@SPUisGay) June 7, 2022
SPU has not publicly acknowledged the matter since its statement standing by the “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” policy.