By Daniel C. Houston
The university denied the Sexual Identity Forum’s request for an official student organization charter for a final time last Friday, leaving officers of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender discussion group dissatisfied and seeking a more thorough explanation.
Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, confirmed that he informed the officers of the group via email that he has upheld the student activities chartering committee’s recommendation to deny them a charter.
Jackson did not include an explanation in his email, expressing only that the university encourages meaningful discussions “when they occur in a manner that is consistent with our mission as a caring Christian community.”
This did not satisfy Alvarado senior Samantha Jones, president of the Sexual Identity Forum, who said that although Jackson had informed her what his decision would be before he officially released it, she was promised a more detailed explanation of the decision than was provided.
“He specifically said he would be sending me a Word document explaining his reasoning for rejecting our appeal,” Jones said. “And I was really disappointed that he did not provide me with that Word document to share with the other officers of the organization.”
Jones said the email she received from Jackson did not answer all of the questions members of the organization had about the rejection.
“I think that with all the vagueness and all the rejections that we’ve seen, the administration owes us a more detailed justification,” Jones said.
Although Jackson was not available for comment, Lori Fogleman, director of media communications and university spokesperson, provided Baylor’s official stance on the issue.
“Having healthy and responsible dialogue is best established through established and professionally facilitated programs,” Fogleman said. “It’s the university’s opinion that a chartered student organization is not the most viable medium through which to pursue such dialogue.”
Fogleman said the official university stance should suffice as an explanation.
“I am not aware of any discussion of a Word document,” Fogleman wrote in an email to the Lariat on behalf of Jackson and Baylor. “What I do know is that Dr. Jackson shared with the students repeatedly that he would respond to the appeal, that he either would accept the committee’s recommendation or not accept the committee’s recommendation. He provided the students that promised response, which is what the policy calls for.”
Jones thinks the administration’s decision was at least partially motivated by a fear that the discussion forum would engage in advocacy, a fear Jones asserts is irrational.
“I think the administration needs to realize that the Sexual Identity Forum is a viable way for students to talk about sexuality in a responsible manner,” Jones said. “We will prove to the administration by meeting unofficially that we can talk about sexuality responsibly.”