Editor's blog: Unrest at John Carroll University

Some students at John Carroll University sat in during halftime at a men's basketball game last week in protest of a recent administrative decision not to include protections for LGBT people in a nondiscrimination policy.

A screen grab from a video posted on YouTube of last week's protest during a men's basketball game at John Carroll University. Watch the video above.

As students at Kent State — a fairly liberal college campus — it’s hard to imagine blatant discrimination being allowed at a university merely 40 minutes north of here.

But that’s exactly what’s occurring, and has been occurring, at John Carroll University in University Heights. Students and faculty of the Jesuit university on the east side of Cleveland have recently begun protesting a change in JCU’s nondiscrimination policy. They want sexual orientation added to the nondiscrimination policy.

So far, the university’s president, Robert Niehoff, isn’t budging. He issued a statement saying the policy should not be altered because it would go against “traditional Catholic moral teaching,” according to a Plain Dealer report.

Granted, this situation isn’t entirely surprising. We’re talking about a religiously-affiliated, private college, after all. They can make their own rules without conforming to state standards for funding.

But university officials at John Carroll university are acting hypocritically by refusing to add LGBT people to the nondiscrimination policy. I’m a straight girl who also happens to be Catholic. I’ll admit I tend to be a fairly liberal Catholic — a cafeteria Catholic, so to speak — but I follow the basic doctrine of any religion: love and compassion. And I think the same can be said for many modern American Catholics who attend church regularly and help society, but

who may not agree with all the dictates coming from the Vatican in Italy. That’s why it’s ridiculous for John Carroll University to be denying LGBT students, staff and faculty the right to avoid discrimination (at least in the legal sense).

It’s impractical to think a nondiscrimination policy will solve all the world’s problems. It’s more about the message from the university: “We support you and will help you avoid discrimination to the best of our power.”

I’m not a religious scholar — or a religious zealot for that matter — but I think any discrimination is a sin. That seems like a fairly logical argument that would be difficult to disprove. I wonder how long it will take for the rest of society to catch up, though. Governments and religious organizations make everything more complex.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how this conflict at John Carroll University unfolds. The president has promised to meet with student groups to discuss the issue. Maybe our generation will be able to enlighten him.

— Jackie Valley, copy desk chief

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