Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Constitution

Haven: A Seattle Pacific University Club

Statement of Purpose

Haven recognizes with a heavy heart that issues of sexuality are threatening to tear apart the Christian church not just locally but globally. In order to build a bridge between these diverging points of view, Haven exists to first welcome all, and then to engage in uplifting, respectful, and educational discussions on human sexuality.

The following are Haven's commitments, which firmly align with Seattle Pacific University's Signature Commitments, Lifestyle Expectations, and Statement on Human Sexuality.
  • A Haven is "any place of shelter and safety; refuge; asylum" (www.dictionary.com). This name has been chosen because Haven is committed to offering a safe space for faculty and students interested in having thoughtful discussions and regular fellowship around gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) issues, as well as other topics on sexuality in general. These discussions will be based on Scripture, experience, reason, and tradition. We do not seek to resolve the issues or to advocate any one standpoint as a group, but merely to be humans in dialogue about the things for which we care deeply. Haven believes this pledge invokes the SPU signature commitment that states: "We are saying here that we love the life of the mind. We love ideas. We love the vibrancy of intellectual exchange and discussion and debate. We are a university through and through. Inside and outside the classroom, we declare ourselves a learning community. What do we do with our learning? With this signature, we affirm that deep learning is the best way to change the world."
  • Haven is committed to being a safe space for students who might feel isolated, ashamed, or silenced due to their sexual orientation or due to their beliefs about sexual orientation (whichever side they may fall on). Haven also exists for faculty and students who have GLBTQ family members, friends, or acquaintances and need a safe space to openly discuss these issues. This commitment is in line with the Statement on Human Sexuality, which declares that "people must be treated with respect and dignity by all institutions in society whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, believer or unbeliever, homosexual or heterosexual." Haven believes that to treat someone with "respect and dignity" means that we have to allow them to come out of silence, listen to their story, and acknowledge their humanity.
  • Haven is committed to using all of Scripture carefully in our discussions on human sexuality. However, biblical passages on human sexuality are open to different interpretations; therefore, as we discuss these interpretations, Haven is committed to loving God and our neighbor above all else.
  • Haven affirms SPU's Lifestyle Expectations, namely the prohibition of "cohabitation and related forms of premarital, extra-marital or homosexual sexual activities." Even though Haven is a club that hosts discussions on human sexuality, all members will be held to SPU standards of sexual purity.
To achieve these commitments Haven's meetings will include testimonies, films, speakers from both on and off campus, and engaging discussions that shed light on issues in all areas of human sexuality that are very delicate, nuanced, and often ignored (to the detriment of the community).

Membership Requirements
  • There is no official membership for this club. We will instead hold regular meetings which all who act in a respectful and loving manner are welcome and encouraged to attend, regardless of personal beliefs about human sexuality. We choose to go about membership in this relaxed manner due to the sensitive concept around which we are focused. Many people are not comfortable being officially connected to issues of sexuality and, instead of excluding these individuals or creating an "in-group/out-group" mentality, we have chosen to make this a space in which people are not forced to commit in an intimidating manner. All can be part of Haven; ultimately, this is our goal-- we do not intend to create absolute uniformity of beliefs, but rather encourage all members of the SPU community to approach others with humility, respect, love, and a true desire to value all in a Christ-emulating manner.
  • For decision-making purposes, those who have attended at least three Haven meetings in a given year will be eligible to vote. Because we intend to gather in integrity and honesty, we will use the honor system when it comes to attendance.
  • We will regularly maintain an email address list for the purpose of keeping attendees updated about upcoming meetings, events, and business. However, provision of an email address will never be mandatory, and we will not distribute member names. We will only tally attendance weekly for the purpose of reporting to the ASSP.
Officer Selection
  • Original officers have been chosen by person willingness to fill positions. From now on, officers will be chosen by nomination and approved by a majority vote among the previously mentioned voting body. This selection process will take place every year, midway through Spring Quarter.
  • Certain offices will vary by year and by the perception of need, but there will be two offices which will be maintained permanently:
    • Facilitator: this individual will coordinate the meetings, activities, and vision of Haven. They will be the primary liaison between ASSP and the club. This position may also conceivably be split into two co-facilitator roles.
    • Financial Administrator: this individual will oversee the budget and advise the club in issues involving finances.
Current Officers, in No Particular Order

Co-Facilitator: Joey Beckwith
Co-Facilitator: Beth Van Dam
Financial Administrator: Kelsey Hudson
Co-Facilitator: Shelly DeLaney
Co-Facilitator: Grant Rehnberg

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kevin Neuhouser

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Asterisk

*An unfortunate circumstance. We're working on it.

Here is our first Blog, links to all the Falcon articles that have been written about us. For posterity.

"Local Recognition for Haven"
April 9, 2008

"Waiting for Club Status Once Again"

March 5, 2008

"A Church of Balance"
October 24, 2007

"An Alternative Christian Voice"
October 17, 2007

"New 'Haven' For Discussion"
October 10, 2007

"We Should Embrace the Gay-Straight Alliance at SPU"
May 9, 2007

Letters to the editor:

Haven deserves recognition

It was disheartening to read the article on the struggles the group Haven is facing in campus in their attempts to receive club status. It feels so much like backsliding has occurred since last spring when Equality Ride was here on campus and this subject was being discussed more regularly.

Unfortunately, the administration of SPU is pulling an old-time tactic: out of sight, out of mind. They won’t make a decision, hoping that eventually people will forget or just give up. I am proud of Haven for not giving up and for continuing to meet despite the circumstances. Sometimes you have to step backward to go forward. Besides, you never know who you are helping just by being. Homosexuality will always face adversity, especially in the eyes of legalistic Christianity, but I am so grateful there is a place for people to go where they can fi nd support and love. In a world where the suicidal rate of homosexual teens is out of control, it is so good that there truly are some people on campus being the people of God.

Isaiah Nielsen, Junior
Submitted March 12, 2008

“Expectations” unclear

I am not an authority figure in the field of psychology or on issues concerned with sexuality. Being a psychology/communications major at SPU, though, I have a valid concern with how the status of the group Haven is being treated.

The whole argument for or against accepting homosexuality rests on this question: Is homosexuality something you are born with, or is it a choice? The best behavioral scientist can only answer this question with the following two words: it depends. For example, the research shows that the more sons a mother has, the more likely that the younger sons will be homosexual. This can be tied to differences in chemical balances when the fetus is in the womb during subsequent pregnancies.

On the “nurture” side, it is very likely that the more open-minded one’s parents and peer-groups are to the gay culture, the more likely the individual will consider it acceptable to be gay.

SPU’s Lifestyle Expectations ban “homosexual sexual activities,” and in the Statement on Human Sexuality, it explicitly states that “sexual experience is intended between a man and a woman.” This is problematic for two reasons: as a behavioral guideline, it is remarkably vague in nature. What homosexual activities are unacceptable? Two men holding hands? Gay sex? Being gay? Questioning one’s sexuality? Where do we draw the line in the sand?

Also, it does nothing to explain why homosexuality is prohibited beyond stating that the opposite of it is deemed as God’s plan. What specifically about homosexuality is not part of God’s plan? Reproductive capabilities? Vaginal intercourse? Family structure?

Regardless, through the decisions SPU has taken with Haven’s club status, the administration is left with only one course of action in my mind: answering the question, “What is wrong about homosexuality, and why?” We need a more explicit statement about homosexuality in our Lifestyle Expectations if SPU is going to make moral arguments against homosexuality beyond “because the Bible says so” arguments.

As it stands, the administration has no right to deny club status to a group that encourages communication, honest evaluation, open membership to all sexual orientations, and most importantly, provides a safe harbor to those who cannot fi nd refuge elsewhere. A Christian environment can be an intimidating environment for a person who is homosexual; Haven may very well be their only safe outlet. The presence of Haven would alleviate the “emotional, mental, or physical harm or suffering” of these individuals, seek to find meaning, clarity and social support when others may “demean the dignity” of a homosexual person, and help those questioning the moral legitimacy of homosexuality to see that it is not in general “lewd, indecent, or obscene,” as Lifestyle Expectations say.

Indeed, contrary to what we are told by the administration, it would seem that establishing Haven as a recognized student group through ASSP would do more to protect and ensure the good intent behind Lifestyle Expectations than denying it would.

Tim Bauerle
Senior, Submitted March 9, 2008