Members of the coalition worked well into the early morning preparing an official statement to give to President Holland.
UVU has worked hard at putting forth an image of inclusiveness and acceptance of all students. However, some students believe there is still more to be done. A group of students called the Coalition Against Discrimination met with President Holland on March 9 to talk about improving inclusiveness through policy changes.
Currently, UVU is the last public institution of higher education that does not protect students, faculty or staff from discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.
The current policy states, “Discrimination shall not be tolerated against any student or applicant for admission because of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, pregnancy-related condition, disability, status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam Era. Such discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated in any program or instructional area of the institution.” The coalition is hoping to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.
The coalition, made up of six students, represented various clubs on campus including Peace and Justice, SHAAFT, RSU, Spectrum–LBGQTI/Straight Alliance and the Philosophy club. The prepared statement given to President Holland read, “UVU must take a principled stance against discrimination on the basis of gender identity/expression and sexual orientation.”
“We hoped to initiate a discussion that the administration could be held accountable for,” said Steven Broadbent, one of the coalition chairs.
While President Holland acknowledged the coalition’s concerns, he was hesitant to commit to anything.
“When Emily [Lacock] brought up a time frame, he said he couldn’t give us a time frame,” said Jessica Burnham, the coalition representative for Peace and Justice. “He did, however, want to meet with us again to continue the dialogue.”
The coalition will be meeting with President Holland again on March 28 to follow up their conversation. During that time, the coalition plans on working hard to make their case.
“One thing we need to do is substantiate our claims of discrimination,” Lacock said, a coalition member representing the RSU. “And show that the policies in place aren’t enough.”
While President’s Holland’s response wasn’t exactly what the coalition had hoped for, members were glad that a dialogue began.
“I’m satisfied that we got a meeting and some kind of response,” said Chase Henson, coalition member representing SHAAFT.
The coalition held a rally on Friday, March 6. For more coverage of the rally, visit uvureview.com.
By Kelly Cannon