Op-Ed: SUU lucky with progressive leaders
On Monday evening, I had the privilege of helping to moderate and time the final debate of the 2010 election season.
At that debate, a number of good questions were asked of the candidates, both from the election committee and members of the audience.
One question, however, stood out from the others, at least in my opinion.
Vice President for Student Services Donna Eddleman asked the candidates how they would ensure that the needs of marginalized students would be met and their voices heard.
Eddleman specified that of students who are not members of the predominant religion and those who are members of the GLBT community.
The question required the potential student leaders to examine '- albeit quickly '- what they had done and would do to include those minority groups and ensure their needs are taken care of.
I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't criticized Eddleman on this very page for making unpopular decisions.
As she stood in front of me asking that question, I was reminded how lucky we are that we have an administrator who is willing to take a stand on this particular unpopular issue.
All too often, the rights of those who are not LDS or who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are disregarded because of their immorality or the beliefs of a particular religion.
I have never had a problem with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in fact, I count members among my best friends.
However, as a non-member myself, I see that sometimes it is important that leaders step back and remember that not everyone is Mormon and does not necessarily share the same value set.
The same can be said for members of the GLBT community, who are often ignored or suppressed in favor of what some have deemed 'family values,' which often they believe homosexuals simply cannot possess.
The first time I met Eddleman, I was serving on a student panel meeting with potential VPs. She told the story of how she backed students at her previous university in their quest to add sexual orientation to the school's nondiscrimination policy.
In turn, Eddleman and some student leaders worked hard to add sexual orientation to the Nondiscrimination clause of the Student Rights and Responsibilities policy, ushering SUU into the 21st century on that front.
SUU has a long way to go to be completely GLBT and 'gentile' friendly, and that may not even be possible in this state.
Our institution does not have a long history of being the most supportive institution for gays and non-Mormons, but that is changing.
With administrators like Eddleman, who are willing to publicly go out on a limb to protect all of our students, SUU is becoming a better place for everyone.
I'm glad SUU is continually taking progressive steps, and it makes me even more proud to have the life-long designation of Thunderbird.
© 2009 Dennis Busch, John Christian Perkins, University Journal