Saturday, August 27, 2011

Elmhurst College (United Church of Christ) is an unlikely trailblazer for LGBT inclusion

lgbt college application

It seems religiously affiliated universities have reached a fork in the road, and they must choose to embark on a more inclusive, progressive philosophy; or turn-tail and run back to the 17th century. At least that was my impression after reading the following articles:

Where Trendy Is 17th Century is an interesting read about New Saint Andrews College embracing a Great Books curriculum, which includes a statement of faith that asserts a literal six 24-hour day creation of the Universe, that the Bible is infallible, is correct in all it addresses, and addresses everything (Everything? What does it say about Internet privacy policies?).

According to the article from Inside Higher Ed, feminists and skeptics at New Saint Andrews College "must offer to withdraw from college." This policy of believe what we believe or get the heck out is definitely an interesting approach to higher education. Not surprising, critical thinking does not appear in their objectives for students.

Thankfully, this article from The Friendly Atheist was able to provide new hope for religiously affiliated universities. It mentions a new intentionality for LGBT inclusion on admission applications at Elmhurst College in Illinois. The application includes the optional question: "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?"

The dean of admissions is quoted in a Chicago Sun Times article:
“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” said Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”
The college is reportedly the first school to directly ask the question, rather than implying LGBT identity through questions about interest in LGBT topics.

With this new information, Elmhurst College plans to embrace LGBT students by directing them to student services and groups, and even offering scholarships to aid in LGBT student recruitment. The word "intentional" comes to mind, and to me Elmhurst College is a shining beacon of progressive hope in the ranks of Christian colleges.