A thoughtful friend drew my attention to this story about North Central University and the Equality Riders. To summarize: gay activists are barred from holding events at an Assemblies of God university.
I find stories like this very interesting, because I find myself in the same situation as the Equality Riders. I am on a private university not exactly enthusiastic about my views and have to labor under certain restrictions as a result. Having said that, Stanford is much more gracious to me than North Central has been to the Equality Riders (even if the riders’ version of events proves to be exaggerated). I am allowed to be on campus, to hold meetings with other interested students on campus, and
to utilize campus resources.
At first blush, it seems that the Assemblies of God (who sponsors both my ministry and that of North Central University) wants to have it both ways: they want to be allowed to express their views via people like me at private universities while simultaneously denying other groups that right at their own schools (such as NCU).
I’m not sure that’s a completely fair assessment, since there’s a category difference between denominational schools and someplace like Stanford or Yale. These latter schools, although private, like to think of themselves as self-consciously neutral on religious and moral matters, whereas denominational schools have religious and moral
positions to which all students are required to conform. The upshot is that NCU can represent the student body in a way that Stanford cannot.
Still, it does seem a little hypocritical (the golden rule seems relevant in this context) and unwise. As a professional who works with college students, I assure you that NCU did everything they could to intrigue students with the Equality Riders’ message. If they truly wanted to sideline the riders, the administration should have invited them onto campus, given them a public forum, and then offered a calm and
thorough rebuttal. As it is, they’ve likely fanned a spark into flame.
And firing reporters for reporting is always a shortsighted move (although legal). Firing reporters always leaves people feeling suspicious–what is being hidden? Again, the way to derail any story is by being calm and reasonable in your response (supposing that you have a better case, that is). If the reporters write stories that the administrators find troubling, letters to the editor (or even an editorial column, depending on the paper’s governance) are supremely appropriate.
Still, I would be very interested to hear NCU’s official perspective on the events described by the Equality Riders. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to notice that the Equality Riders were hyping the level of force used by the university, so perhaps other details are also misleading.
[UPDATE: this is precisely the university’s assertion. They claim that the Equality Riders have misrepresented the events. Read the university’s response at http://www.northcentral.edu/news/soulforce.php
and also hear a message from the university president about the events.]