Students ask President for answers
Fr. Beauchcamp discusses non-discrimination policy, housing, new rec center, at annual Fireside Chat
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 18:02
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.”
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?”