Almost 20 years is too long
On May 13, 1993, The New York Times published an article about the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance being banned at St. John’s University. At the time a St. John’s graduate, Brendan Fay, stated, “A university should be a place of dialogue, of reflection on the entire human experience.”
At the end of this year, it will have been 20 years since the article was published. Most of our freshmen were not even born yet.
As one of the most diverse colleges in the nation, St. John’s would seem to be open to a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance on campus. With an undergraduate class on the Queens campus alone of around 12,000 students, the lack of an alliance is frankly, preposterous. Located in NYC, a city extremely accepting of the LGBT community, especially with the recent approval of gay marriage, St. John’s University stands out as a sore thumb.
An Alliance is a place for students of any sexual orientation to meet, socialize and discuss issues within their communities. It unites people with similar beliefs. Just like the Hindu Students Council, Muslim Students Association and the Coptic Society, all organizations that do not coincide with the Catholic Church teachings either.
These groups are allowed on campus with the same purposes that an Alliance would have. Sadly, St. John’s has not caught on to this trend yet.
St. John’s is one of three Vincentian universities in the nation.
It also happens to be the only one without an Alliance.
DePaul University, located in Chicago, states on its website regarding its Alliance, “It’s a safe space for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff of DePaul University to go and learn more about themselves and many others.”
Niagara University, located in Niagara, New York, the third Vincentian university, states about its Alliance, “NU-Alliance is a student group established to work with the university … in ways that are appropriate to our Catholic and Vincentian mission.”
My sophomore year at St. John’s, I sat down with an administrator in the Campus Activities department who politely informed me there was no Alliance on campus because it did not coincide to the Catholic mission of the University. It was mentioned that we have a “Safe Zone” program run through Student Wellness – which has been the University’s answer whenever asked about the lack of an Alliance on campus.
That same semester, I was surprised at a conversation I had with my Christian Marriage professor.
I challenged her, asking, “Why do we not allow a LGBT alliance on campus then?” and she responded, “We do.”
I challenged her again and said we absolutely do not and she responded, “Well, we should.”
We should. It’s that simple. There is no reason in not having an Alliance. There is no precedent. There is no compassion.
Rev. Donald J. Harrington, President of our University, I call on you. Twenty years is too long to be ignorant of an entire group of students on this campus. Stand up for your students. All of your students. They are waiting and they are ready.