That is what many of you predicted when the AJC first reported that the Rome college required employees to sign a “Personal Lifestyle Statement” forbidding premarital sex, adultery and homosexual sex. The Personal Statement also requires that employees be active members of a local church. And the employees must agree to not drink in public places where students may see them, including restaurants, concerts and sports events. Nor can they attend a Shorter function if they consumed alcohol six hours prior to the event.
The school has had a policy since 2008 to hire Christians only who adhere to strict interpretations of the Bible. My AJC colleague Laura Diamond explained that the policy does not impact students’ ability to get federal loans because the college serves as pass-through and the money belongs to the students not the college.
In its update, Huffington cites Inside Higher Ed, which reported last month that an anonymous employee survey found that 12 percent of the faculty said they planned to stay at Shorter. Here is a good Rome News-Tribune story on the survey.
According to Huffington:
An online campaign called “Save Our Shorter” seems to blame the departure of many employees on the pledge, even though the university’s president told the Religion News Service that some of those who resigned did not state their reason for leaving.
“I feel that Shorter, the GBC, the Board of Trustees, and/or whoever can do what they want to the school,” one student writes on the site. “It’s their school, but I cannot personally attend a school so full of hate. The personal lifestyle statement is picking and choosing which sins are worse than others, but a sin is a sin. Why were homosexuality, premarital sex, and adultery singled out? What about child molesters?”
One of the school’s tenured professor felt similarly. “Lest anyone think I am ‘promoting’ homosexuality, please know that I am not,” professor Sherri Weiler, who resigned last week, wrote in the Rome News-Tribune, according to the “Save Our Shorter” site. “I am simply not going to judge anyone who expresses his/ her sexuality in this way.”
She continued, “All I know is that I cannot sign a document that “reject[s] as acceptable” any one of God’s creatures, be they adulterers, sexual ’sinners’ of any stripe, or drinkers of alcohol in public. All I know is that I cannot ‘reject as acceptable’ people who have sinned in any way, because I’ve sinned, too, and no doubt will again.”
Still, Nelson Price, who was chairman of the Board of Trustees when the lifestyle statement was approved, denounced the survey cited by Inside Higher Ed, describing it as “skewed” to the Rome News-Tribune . “The senders sent it to a group they selected and left out persons known to be in support of the direction the school is going,” Price noted. “It was not an objective blind survey…the questions were highly biased.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog