Students have mixed emotions about PRISM gaining charter

By Tatum Mitchell | Staff Writer, Video by Kaity Kempf | Broadcast Reporter

A day after having the newly chartered LGBTQ+ and allies organization on campus, students offer their reactions of support and opposition to Baylor’s decision on PRISM.

Lubbock senior and PRISM co-president Zachary Gallarneau said that working with Student Life was a great experience and that there has been a positive response on PRISM’s social media. Gallarneau said he is looking forward to seeing PRISM’s impact on Baylor.

“I just think it’s a moment to be really transparent with the university about who I am in hopes that maybe others can someday do the same,” Gallarneau said.

Plano junior and Gamma Alpha Upsilon (Gamma) external chair Alex Gonzalez said he is in support of PRISM because it is one step closer to progress and creating an affirming space at Baylor.

The charter came after the six-month process and a 10-year push for a welcoming Baylor organization for LGBTQ students.

“Baylor says it’s home, but it hasn’t been home for queer students,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve had to carve out spaces for ourselves, and because of that, when Baylor gives us a group like this, of course some people were apprehensive. But [Gamma wants] to say that we support PRISM; we can coexist and have numbers in both.”

Pine Bluff, Ark., junior and chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas at Baylor Megan Harris said via email she is aware of PRISM’s mission and efforts to be chartered from recent articles and its constitution.

Harris said she believes this “is a misstep on Baylor’s part to perpetuate the idea that LGBTQ+ values and ideas can be in alignment with a Christian mission.”

“I feel that this is a reflection of repeated and subtle efforts to make Baylor a progressive environment that denies all basic understanding of reasonable biblical values and Christian teaching,” Harris said.

Atlanta junior and president of College Democrats of Baylor Peyton Lamb said there is still work to be done in order to have an official and affirming group, which has to exist within Baylor’s statement on human sexuality. Lamb said he thinks the existence of PRISM is valuable for LGBTQ+ students.

“It shows that Baylor is willing to take big steps to create and allow this community to exist and give LGBTQ students an official spot at the table,” Lamb said.

Lamb said it’s important to have an organization demonstrate the welcoming nature of Baylor despite beliefs that may clash.

Harris said Baylor has not enforced its statement by the Board of Regents regarding its mission in relation to this topic. She said she affirms the “dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” but does not believe this includes “affirming sinful lifestyles” or requires the chartering of a student organization.

“While it is not explicitly in the language of the constitution that PRISM is affirming, it, along with Baylor upon the group’s chartering, is affirming sinful lifestyles based on the organization’s constitution, which states as its goal to create a space that ‘embraces diverse sexual identities’ and to ‘celebrate their individual identities and identity as a group,’” Harris said.

Gonzalez said even though Baylor is a Christian university, there are a lot of reasons LGBTQ+ people come to campus, and there should be groups that support the community. Gonzalez said he thinks Baylor is trying to play it safe, and when the university gets less afraid with time, the next progressive steps will be made.

“Don’t be afraid to be affirming,” Gonzalez said. “Don’t be afraid to advocate for the lives of queer people and to stand up for their rights.”

Minneapolis freshman Cora Roehm said as a Christian herself, she does not believe theology dictates affirmation. In Christianity, there are churches and denominations that are affirming and are not affirming.

As a Christian, Roehm said she supports PRISM and believes Baylor students are called to love each other unconditionally despite identity and marginalization.

“I think, in reference to Christianity, that Baylor definitely has room to accept [the LGBTQ+ community],” Roehm said. “But even if that wasn’t the case, the university has a duty to support and uplift all the students.”