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Students ask President for answers

Fr. Beauchcamp discusses non-discrimination policy, housing, new rec center, at annual Fireside Chat

By Kelsey Thomas Staff Writer thomask15@up.edu
On February 21, 2013

At his annual Fireside Chat in St. Mary's Student Center Monday night, University President Fr. Bill Beauchamp answered questions about the University's non-discrimination policy, single-sex dorms and the new recreational center, among other issues.

About 40 students gathered for the talk, and some voiced concerns over the absence of sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy.

Beauchamp said UP does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, as referring to the Statement on Inclusion, which was adopted by the Board of Regents in May of 2011.

"The purpose of the statement of inclusion is to make it clear we do not discriminate because of sexual orientation," Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp said the absence of sexual orientation from the non-discrimination policy is for legal reasons. The Statement on Inclusion is a pledge by the University, while the non-discrimination policy is legally binding.

Beauchamp said if UP added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy, it could be interpreted in courts to include sexual practices in addition to sexual orientation. This could legally require UP to condone sexual practices not accepted by the Catholic Church, he said.

"The Catholic Church has certain expectations regardless of whether you're heterosexual or homosexual," Beauchamp said. "The courts looking at [the non-discrimination policy], especially in Oregon, could take sexual orientation to mean sexual practice, whether or not it's same sex couples."

Beauchamp acknowledged the presence of LGBTQ individuals on campus.

"We know that there are faculty and staff in same-sex relationships on campus," Beauchamp said. "They are not public about it and we don't ask them. But if someone were to go very public about it and make an issue then we would have trouble."

When asked for clarification Tuesday, Beauchamp said the University would address a situation only if it "were to become a public scandal."

Beauchamp reinforced the importance of Catholic teachings about sexual behaviors, and said the University has no intention of interfering with private relationships. "There are teachings of the Catholic Church that are important to us, " he said. "We do not look at people's personal lives."

Beauchamp was also asked about the absence of women in upper administration. Beauchamp said women "absolutely" could receive any position on campus.

"Basically, we will hire the person that we feel is most qualified," Beauchamp said. "Not many schools have a female Dean of Engineering."

Beauchamp said one of the reasons for the Presidents' Leadership Cabinet, a group of 12 including the Athletic Director and Provost, is to add women's voices to administrative discussions. The cabinet meets every two weeks to talk about various issues.

"It runs the whole gamut about what's going on at the University," Beauchamp said.

Out of the 11 members of the Leadership Cabinet, three are women: Laurie Kelley, the Associate Vice President for University Relations and Chief Marketing Officer, Danielle Hermanny, Executive Assistant to the President, and Bryn Sopko, Director of Human Resources.

Changes on Campus

Despite rumors on campus, Beauchamp said there are no plans to make all dorms single-sex. Shipstad and Corrado will remain co-ed dorms and the University plans to continue to allow students the choice between a co-ed and single-sex dorm.

"The co-ed dorms work well," Beauchamp said. "There are certain advantages to living in a co-ed dorm."

UP is well into fundraising for the new recreational center, estimated to cost $22 to $23 million, and they hope to break ground before the 2014 commencement.

Howard Hall will be razed, and the recreational facility will be built on the current public-safety parcel instead of the baseball field as previously planned. It will take up the space the public safety building is on, the parking lot and the field. A new baseball field would cost an extra $5 million that the University cannot afford this year, he said.

Beauchamp confirmed the phasing out of the student Hall Receptionist position, as student employment went over budget about $315,000 last year. He said cutting the Hall Receptionist position would help reduce the excess spending and that the student employees could be better used in a different way on campus.

"There's no reason for them to sit there all day," Beauchamp said. "That's a huge cost."

Students Weigh-In

As a current hall receptionist in Christie, Sophomore Joe Maham said although disappointed with the cut, Beauchamp's financial reasoning made sense.

"There is more to the dorm than the people who greet you inside. That is a part of it, but you have to take into account where the money is going," Maham said. "I think the money is going to better things."

Brock Vasconcellos, ASUP president, said he understood why the cut was necessary.

"I think it's a smart cut," he said. "It's not like the dorms aren't secure."

Senior Kaleb Patterson said Monday night's discussion focused too much on sexual orientation discrimination.

"Personally I felt like it was a waste of time asking about the homosexuality," Patterson said. "That's not going to change, so why waste those fifteen minutes that could be spent asking about the dorms or the residence life?"

Vasconcellos thought UP's implementation of the Inclusion Policy was "a creative solution," given the University's legal concerns about the non-discrimination policy. He said UP has to balance between Catholic beliefs and being open to different backgrounds.

"The school would be in a big pickle if the policy was in place," he said. "We're caught between two ideals we appreciate very much."

However, many students are upset with Beauchamp's comment about faculty and staff in same-sex relationships. Dozens of students changed their profile pictures on Facebook to a purple equality symbol in response to Beauchamp's statement.

Junior Andrew Meyer, a member of the UP Gay-Straight Partnership, said students have a right to be offended and concerned by Beauchamp's comment.

"We do want to be a collective community, but we don't do a great job showing it," Meyer said. "Those kinds of statements do a lot to shoot them in the foot, at least in the eyes of the students."

Editor's note: During the Fireside Chat on Monday night, the Beacon tweeted a comment from President Beauchamp regarding staff and faculty in same-sex relationships that incorrectly contained the word "problems" instead of "trouble." An audio recording of the Fireside Chat confirms the correct quote as follows: "They are not public about it and we don't ask them but if someone were to go very public about it and make an issue, then we would have trouble."

UP's Statement on Inclusion

Adopted by the Board of Regents on May 13, 201

At the University of Portland, a Catholic University guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross, all dimensions of our communal life-teaching and learning, faith and formation, and service and leadership-are informed and transformed by prayer, scripture, and the Christian tradition.

Our belief in the inherent dignity of each person is founded upon the social teaching of the Catholic Church. At the center of that teaching is the fundamental mandate that every person, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social or economic class, age, or disability shall be treated with respect and dignity.

Moreover, we seek to create and sustain an inclusive environment where all people are welcomed as children of God and valued as full members of our community. We condemn harassment of every kind, and assert that no one in our community should be subject to physical or verbal harassment or abuse. Further, no one shall be denied access to programs, services, and activities for any unlawful reason. We provide all who live, learn, and work at the University the opportunity to actively participate in a vibrant, diverse, intellectual community that offers a broad range of ideas and perspectives, so that we may all learn from one another.

UP's Non-Discrimination Policy

The University of Portland does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, disability, age, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law in its educational programs, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletic and other school-administered programs or in employment.

The designated coordination point for University compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and for ADA is the Executive Vice President, in coordination with the University Health Center, Human Resources, and the Office for University Events.


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