Thursday, February 4, 2010

January 2010 Issue!!

If you're reading this, we're hoping you got a hold of the January 2010 issue of the CitiZine!
(If you want a copy and didn't get one, send us an email at and we'll email you a pdf or mail you a copy!)

Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
Find out more about the man featured on this issue's cover:

Here are some links to information regarding Congressman Joe Sestak, who spoke at Eastern on Monday, Feb. 1, as mentioned in today's CitiZine issue.

Ok, so we'd also like to hear your response to our article about adding sexual orientation to Eastern's non-discrimination policy. Do you think the phrase should be added?


  1. First, to answer your question, I'd like to see Eastern add "sexual orientation" to its non-discrimination policy for students. And, as a matter of how the school operates, this would change very little, as you point out. Eastern's admissions office does not discriminate, as far as I know against sexual minorities in its recruitment or admission of applicants. And LGBT students are not expelled from the institution once their sexual orientation is known on campus; in fact, the negotiations that occur in the student development office when a residential student is openly gay are rather sensitive and nuanced in their effort to honor the spirit of Eastern's policies, which include loving each student as Christ commands us.

    But, although CitiZine may see this as "not an issue of theology," I think that there are those in the University's hierarchy that would most definitely disagree, whether those are board members, administrators, faculty, staff, even students and parents. I'll say just a couple things about that, which vary in their solid factualness, if that's a word.

    First, I am 90% positive that when I first interviewed at Eastern, I was shown a printed document outlining the university's community standards, and I thought that there was an explicit prohibition of homosexuality. I could be wrong about the explicit presence of the word "homosexual," but I do remember having at least a brief conversation with then-Provost David Fraser asking if university faculty members were attesting to that list of community standards when they signed the doctrinal statement, and he said "no," but that faculty were expected to adhere to the standards and that they were taken seriously.

    Second, over the years I've had conversations with Eastern faculty that make it pretty clear that an openly gay professor would not be hired at Eastern.

    Third, for faculty--students are another question and an interesting one--the official policy that might be used to justify firing or not hiring a sexually active LGBT professor would be the statement in the community standards statement in the Faculty Handbook that asserts "...we value family relationships, sexual abstinence outside of marriage and sexual fidelity within marriage..." As long as "marriage" refers to an official relationship into which only a male and female may enter, the policy basically says that a heterosexual faculty member can only be sexually active with his/her spouse, and that any other faculty member cannot be sexually active at all. For anyone doubting the importance of the difference between "civil unions" and "marriage," here's a case of where that difference is quite significant.

    That's all for now. I'm very interested to hear what folks think of your stand on this issue, and I'd also like to see what--beyond printing this challenge in an underground newspaper--anyone is willing to do about it.

  2. I would like to comment about the Joe Sestak article...

    I was at the meeting and I find this article somewhat concerning for a couple reasons.

    For one, there were some name errors. Chris Hall introduced Sestak, not David Black. Also, Sen. Arlen Specter's last name appeared as Spektor.

    The article challenged students to be more involved in these politics by being better informed, showing up, and asking more challenging questions. However, the errors in the article suggest that author him/herself isn't similarly informed or interested. I don't know who wrote the piece so I certainly won't assume this to be true of them, but that is how it appears.

    Second, the piece made it seem like the community members were a side show and that the students needed to play the larger role in the meeting. It neglects the fact that 3 questions were asked by students, and twice as many were asked by community members. This was actually a pretty good proportion considering the relative numbers of each group that were there. The piece could have been informative by including what the student questions were and the answers that were given. One student asked question about gun control, which showed that they were familiar with his stance and were interested in knowing more.

    I do not understand why imperative #1 should have been to ask challenging questions for the(seemingly) simple sake of challenging a politician. The reasons for involvement could have been better communicated. I think that the meeting was a great opportunity, given the fact that there were so many community members, for us to listen in to their concerns.

    I think that another sign of student interest was displayed in the fact that The Waltonian was there, and they were determined/properly involved enough to obtain an interview with Sestak afterwards.

    I hope that these words are taken constructively and not negatively. There were some pieces in this issue that I really appreciated.

  3. Thanks for your comments!

    Dr. Maness: We definitely realize that Eastern is open to admitting LGBT students, but we would hope that adding "sexual orientation" would simply be an assurance to a prospective student.

    When the article said "it is not a theological issue", it was trying to make the point that adding that phrase is not really taking a stance on the issue of homosexuality. Maybe it is to the faculty, like you said, but maybe the wording should have been "this shouldn't be a theological issue".

    Thanks for bringing up the issue of hiring homosexual faculty...we were probably going to address that in a future issue because it is clearly very complicated with serious implications. That is interesting information about the language in the code of conduct for faculty.

    We hope there will be some serious consideration of this issue, and there would have to be widespread discussion and agreement in order to change some of the policies (maybe a forum and talks with administration are in order?).

  4. Brittany: Thank you so much for pointing out those name errors...we rushed with that article and we will print a correction in the next issue!

    We definitely don't think the community was a "side show" of any sort (they weren't very entertaining) but even Sestak made a point to direct his attention to the youth. It was held at a university for a specific reason. Also, there were definitely more students than community members, but they were mostly near the back. We most definitely were not trying to denigrate the students who asked questions, but simply trying to encourage more to be fully engaged in the process.

    It's interesting that you pointed out that the student who asked the gun control question was well informed. That may or may not have been the person who wrote the article. Just saying. ;)

    Also, we actually do believe in challenging a politician rigorously for the very important reason of keeping them accountable to the people. An elected official is NOT doing us any favors by coming to talk to us. That is a characteristic of a healthy democracy and questioning all of their decisions is our mandate as American voters.

    We were glad there were some community members there, but they were the visitors to our campus. We are adamant that the future visiting politicians are coming to students for issues specifically concerning our generation. If you want to just hear community concerns there are plenty of venues out in the community that you can attend (and should!).

    The purpose of our article was not to further communicate Sestak's platform, it was to encourage political awareness to students. The Waltonian's practices are not the same as ours, and we are not trying to model ourselves after them.

    Thank you for your comments!

  5. The language of community standards addresses behavior, not orientation. So it would be very interesting if a gay person applied for a faculty position, but said that s/he was celibate. The community standards require celibacy for non-married faculty members. That would be an intriguing test case of the institution's view on homosexuality.

    It is interesting how many faculty attend churches that welcome and affirm gays and lesbians.

    Here's an important statement from the Faculty Handbook:

    Freedom of academic inquiry demands that faculty members may explore and raise questions about the validity of the affirmations of the Doctrinal Statement and of the Community Standards

  6. Citizine - great response! Thanks for taking the time to clarify :)

  7. Eastern is no longer a Christian university so why bother?