Last Thursday, in Common Grounds, EMU Safe Space held the event Missing Voices to raise awareness about EMU’s policy against hiring Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer faculty members in relationships.
Safe Space is a student organization that focuses on “maintaining a long term vision of equality and justice” for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) students.
Missing Voices held an open discussion about the LGBTQ community, the gap in EMU’s hiring policy when it comes to LGBTQ professors and the EMU’s Mission Statement, which says “EMU serves students of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds and confers undergraduate, graduate, and seminary degrees.”
First-Year Chris Parks, one of the event’s hosts and co-president of EMU Safe Space, claims that while EMU promises diversity in the community, it does not include any LGBTQ professors. Parks emphasized that “the love and acceptance” should be equally extended to the LGBTQ community.
Michael Sheeler, an EMU Senior and participant of the event, strongly agreed with the purpose of the event, “I don’t think EMU should exclude other people”, he said.
EMU Junior Landon Heavener also gave his approval for the purpose of the event. Heavener believes the exclusion of the LGBTQ people is wrong because “already diverse communities exist in EMU.” Heavener also explained that other minority communities, like international students, are accepted while the LGBTQ community is excluded.
Missing Voices tried to keep an open atmosphere so that all types of students at EMU would feel comfortable partcipating and contributing to the conversation. “This event is not a religious one, but it’s just about EMU,” Parks stressed.
Heavener also commented on the open atmosphere of the event. “It was opened for religious people and others. It avoided unimportant conflicts.”
Although Missing Voices succeeded in creating an atmosphere for people on different sides of the conflict, the majority of the participants were standing on the same side with EMU Safe Space.
Sheeler suggested an idea for the next event. “If EMU faculty [instead of EMU Safe Place] holds the event, more students might come”, said Sheeler.
Furthermore, the concerns and issues of the event may have rached EMU faculty, but Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) may be harder to reach. EMU’s official statement has to follow MCUSA’s and before the hiring of a LGBTQ faculty member happens, MCUSA has to change their policy. At this time EMU can’t hire a LGBTQ faculty member if they are in a relationship.
“Unfortunately, a lot of higher-up people have their hands tied,” Sheeler sighed
-Han Park, Staff Photographer