All who work for or attend the University of St. Thomas are valued and respected
I have learned about a disturbing incident that occurred on campus recently. A GLBT staff member was in her office, working with the door closed, when someone pushed several pieces of literature under the door. The focus of these documents was that she should “change,” confess and repent.
Taken by themselves, these documents were neither threatening nor hateful. But in context, it is clear that an individual was being singled out, targeted, and subjected to unwelcome propaganda because of her sexual orientation. This type of conduct has no place in the St. Thomas community and cannot be tolerated.
The reasons are simple. Everyone in our community has the right to feel safe in his or her workspace. Everyone has the right to be left alone. Everyone has the right to be valued for their individuality and for their contributions to our collective enterprise.
Conversely, no one has the right to intrude on another’s privacy. No one has the right to try to “convert” others without their consent and contrary to their wishes. To try to do so abuses the freedom and dignity of the individual. Such behavior is simply unchristian.
It has been suggested that my decision regarding off-campus travel with students – which disallows faculty and staff who lead university-sponsored, off-campus student activities from sharing living quarters with individuals of either gender with whom they have a romantic relationship but to whom they are not married – has been taken as an endorsement of discriminatory behavior against GLBT community members. This is absurd. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want to reiterate, therefore, in the strongest possible terms that all who work for or attend the University of St. Thomas are valued and respected members of our campus community.
What I ask of each of you today is to join me in re-dedicating ourselves to creating and maintaining a working and learning environment in which all individuals feel welcomed and respected for their individuality and the contributions they have made and continue to make to this institution.