News Articles

Sexual orientation proposal misses three-fourths tally at William Jewell

LIBERTY, Mo. (BP)–Sexual orientation will not be included in the student bill of rights at William Jewell College after a student senate vote Jan. 28 narrowly failed to get the necessary three-fourths majority needed for passage.

The vote was 12-7 to include sexual orientation in the document. Had the measure garnered the required 15 votes, it would have gone before the entire student body for a vote in February.

The issue is not about judging whether homosexuality is right or wrong, said B.J. Cardin, a member of the student senate who introduced the sexual orientation amendment for consideration.

“That’s as basic of an argument as I can make to people, that [the student bill of rights] doesn’t represent every student on campus like it’s supposed to,” Cardin told The Kansas City Star.

“I don’t want people to regurgitate what their mom and dad said, what their youth pastor said,” he added. “I want it to come from their own minds, and that’s all that is really important.”

This marks the second time in five years that homosexual activists and their supporters have attempted to include sexual orientation in the student document. The issue has divided the student body and left the administration at odds with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

“This is further evidence of how the homosexual movement is making a major effort to gain acceptance into the mainstream of American society,” said David Clippard, MBC executive director. “This continuing indoctrination, with acceptance as its goal, is a process that begins in grade-school classrooms. I call upon the administration of William Jewell to become more proactive in injecting a Christian world-life view into the minds of their students.”

The MBC executive board’s inter-agency relations committee has launched an official inquiry into the pro-homosexual activity on campus and is expected to report back its findings at the board’s April meeting.

MBC leaders have repeatedly called on the William Jewell administration to take a strong stand against what many see as a growing homosexual influence at the college. William Jewell President David Sallee, meanwhile, said the school would not give in to outside pressure and defended the students’ right to debate and vote on the homosexuality issue.

“I tend to think, ‘What better place to have a tough conversation about a difficult issue than a Christian college campus?'” Sallee told The Kansas City Star.

If the proposal had passed, it would have carried no legal weight but would have served as a reflection of students’ expectations. The administration has already stated that it will not recognize homosexual groups on campus but continues to encourage debate on the subject and has even allowed pro-homosexual activists to speak at school events.

For example, Paul Duke delivered William Jewell’s 2002 baccalaureate address. Duke has been a key spokesman for the pro-homosexual faction within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and is a former New Testament professor at the CBF-supported Mercer University McAfee School of Theology in Georgia.

The homosexual issue has split the student body, although it is unknown how many students are on either side.

“I see a connection between Jewell’s religious connection and passing this,” said Lindsey Gronewold, a senior class representative who voted against the measure. “This [homosexuality] is a choice, and morally it’s not right.”

Another student, Alexandra Hutchings, a junior English major supporting the proposal, expressed her anger in a letter to the editor of The Hilltop Monitor, the student newspaper.

“The truth is that Jewell needs me and the handful of likeminded students if they want to appear diverse,” she wrote. “And Jewell needs students like B.J. Cardin who are willing to question something that isn’t right. Hopefully he had more patience for students opposed to his amendment than I do. And I like a challenge. Believing in God — in fact, being Baptist — does not give anyone the right to criticize a person’s sexual preference. If you believe in God, let him do the judging.”

Hutchings also implied that a national newsmagazine would withdraw its naming of William Jewell as its “Liberal Arts College of the Year” for 2001 if it returned to campus to see the pro-homosexual measure fail.

Some students were seen leaving the senate meeting in tears, according to Kent Cochran, a neighbor to the college and a member of First Baptist Church, Raytown, who attended the meeting.

“One young man came running down the stairs saying, ‘I hate this school. This school is stupid,'” Cochran recounted.

Cochran said he also observed two girls holding hands and at one point one of the girls placed a hand on the other’s lower back, while two boys holding hands stopped to embrace — all in front of at least three school administrators who monitored the meeting.

He said the administrators said or did nothing about the students’ behavior.

Sallee, in his comments to the Star, said the debate is between students, and the college should not manipulate it.

“I think there are people out there who say because you are having this conversation the college is not Christian … but while this is an important conversation, it’s a small piece of what we at Jewell are about,” Sallee said.

Clippard is urging Missouri Baptists to contact William Jewell’s administration and trustees.

“I’m shocked that this kind of thing would be debated on a Baptist college campus,” Clippard told The Pathway, the Missouri convention’s newsjournal. “… It may be a liberal arts school, but it is a liberal arts school that receives Cooperative Program dollars. I believe there needs to be some accountability to the Missouri Baptists that support them.”

The William Jewell administration has also come under fire for allowing a theatrical production on campus called “The Vagina Monologues.” The production tells the story of a diverse group of women each bluntly exploring a specific aspect of the female body part.
Hinkle is editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Don Hinkle