Flames of The Torch

When asked about his view on gay priests, Pope Francis’ response was “Who am I to judge?” Now, about a year and a half later, the University has followed suit and developed a fresh outlook of its own.

The SPECTRUM Initiative is the first LGBTQ student  group to officially be approved through the administration. The group, which kicked off its first semester on campus with a barbecue a few weeks ago, will serve as a campus-wide resource for all students and hold a variety of events that relate to its four pillars: support, education, faith and service.

St. John’s has always taken pride in its diverse student body, and therefore we commend the University’s efforts to work towards unifying all different walks of life. As one of the most diverse schools in the country, it is surprising that St. John’s did not have a group for LGBTQ students and allies until this year. Our fellow Vincentian universities, DePaul and Niagara, formed gay-straight alliance organizations in 2003 and 2009 respectively, according to the university websites.

This precedent strengthened the case of the student leaders who have been in talks with administration over several years to bring this group to life. In fact, various groups of students and allies at St. John’s University have been working toward making this group a reality since 1993.

By adding a safe zone for LGBTQ students and allies and expanding on its previous programs, Safe Zone and How You Doin’, the University as a whole has taken a huge step forward from just last year, when we were one of only two Big East schools without a formalized gay-straight alliance.

This student community advancement must be a great feeling for those who fought for a place on campus and acknowledgement of a formal organization, along with those who need the sanctuary of a safe, welcoming place to go. The formation of the SPECTRUM group should not be looked lightly upon and will prove to enhance campus life and be a benefit to all St. John’s students.

Recently the University has made great strides to better serve all students and create a more accepting environment on campus. This editorial board supports the opinions previously expressed in the Flames column by editorial boards from years past. It is high time that the University provided LGBTQ students with a forum to express their opinions, and we applaud this step toward diversity and a more open, inclusive campus for all students and staff.