Faculty Senate passes resolution supporting Gamma Alpha Upsilon charter

With 26 votes in favor, faculty senate has officially supported chartering Gamma Alpha Upsilon. Photo illustration by Kristen DeHaven | Photo Editor

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution Wednesday afternoon to support Gamma Alpha Upsilon’s goal to become an officially chartered student organization with 26 voting in favor, nine opposed and four abstained.

During the fall 2020 semester, the Student Senate passed the “No Crying on Sundays” resolution supporting the creation of Gamma Alpha Upsilon’s charter and asking the Board of Regents to reinterpret their statement on human sexuality.

The resolution passed through the Faculty Senate adds more support for Gamma Alpha Upsilon from the Baylor community. This resolution does not create policy change but instead asks for the Baylor administration to allow the LGBTQ support group to be an official organization, Matthew Cordon said. Cordon is the chair of Faculty Senate, director of the legal writing program and a professor of law.

“This is not a policy vote or governance vote. It is our voice, but we hope that we have influence and that decision makers do listen to us with regard to the vote that we just took,” Cordon said.

Shreveport, La., sophomore student senator Veronica Penales, Boerne sophomore student senator Addison Knight and Portland, Ore., senior Emma Fraley, president of Gamma Alpha Upsilon, each gave short speeches to the Faculty Senate and answered questions from senators before the vote took place.

“As a support group, our priorities are to give Baylor students a place to embrace their identities, be educated on LGBTQ+ topics and make friends who they know will welcome them fully,” Fraley said. “We don’t have an agenda. We aren’t trying to change anyone’s minds. All we want to do is give students a space to feel welcomed and accepted – often for the very first time in their lives.”

Penales and Knight presented and wrote the “No Crying on Sundays” resolution passed in the Student Senate last semester. They spoke to the Faculty Senate about their experiences with discrimination on campus.

“The ‘Baylor Family’ can no longer reject its LGBTQIA+ children,” Knight said. “I want to make it very clear: by remaining anti-gay, Baylor is saying that it prioritizes antiquated policies of suppression more than its students’ lives. Please. No more.”

Penales said she is excited the Faculty Senate voted in support of Gamma Alpha Upsilon, but their work is not done.

“Is this something we haven’t had in the past 10 years? Absolutely,” Penales said. “Is this something we need going forward when we see the Regents? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s something that we’d like to have. Two resolutions: one from the students, one from the faculty. How can the Regents say no? They will probably find a way, but this is definitely going to make it harder for them.”

At this time, there is not a plan set in stone to speak with the Board of Regents. Penales said the second meeting this semester will be in May, but she doesn’t want to wait that long to push for change.

In addition to support from Faculty and Student Senate, a petition was released for more of the Baylor community to show their support for Gamma Alpha Upsilon.

Baylor alumni have not remained silent on this issue either. Several alumni wrote letters to the Faculty Senate in October asking for them to take action.

“This is not the first time that concerned alumni and members of the Baylor family have turned to the Faculty Senate for help moving the University to establish more equitable and inclusive policies,” Skye Lynn Perryman, class of ’03, Jackie Baugh Moore, class of ’83 and Dr. Tracy Teaff, class of ’82 wrote in their statements to the senate. “In the 1960s, after calls from students, alumni, ministers and individual faculty members urging the university to abolish its discriminatory policy excluding African American people from college admission went unanswered, it was the Senate that took action by passing a resolution encouraging the university to admit students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is out of reverence for the moral leadership and courage this body has demonstrated throughout its history that we respectfully ask you to take this step now.”

In 2019, over 3,000 alumni in the span of a few days signed a petition asking for Gamma Alpha Upsilon to be an official student organization after Matt Walsh, a conservative speaker, was invited to speak on campus by the Young Americans for Freedom.

President Linda Livingstone responded to the controversy in August 2019 by outlining Baylor’s stance on human sexuality and expressed support for LGBTQ students.

“Baylor is committed to providing a loving and caring community for all students – including our LGBTQ students – because it is part and parcel of our University’s mission that calls us to educate our students within a caring community,” Livingstone wrote.

The Faculty Senate was largely in support of the organization, and many senators reached out to the students who spoke at the meeting afterwards to say they were proud of the speakers, Fraley said.

“This is a huge step in the right direction,” Fraley said. “Obviously, this isn’t necessarily a policy change, but the Faculty Senate does have a certain amount of sway with the Baylor administration. We’re really excited to see the overwhelming support that we did receive in favor of chartering Gamma.”