The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Group says they’re not an official club and that’s ok
By KARA SPOELSTRA, Staff Reporter
Published: October 17, 2012
Sophomore Adam Hutchinson settles into his chair and looks around at the 18 students sitting in a circle.
“Welcome to Haven,” Hutchinson said.
It is the second meeting of the year for the group that Hutchinson and Senior Hope Estes co-lead.
According to Hutchinson, “Haven is a safe space for open discussion about all aspects of human sexuality. It’s a place for different viewpoints to come together.” The group meets in Weter 201 every Sunday, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm.
At the meeting, the students focused on the terms used in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. They went around the circle, reading the definitions of words such as “asexual,” “gender” and “transphobia.” Estes asked the group what they would like to do next week, and ideas were brought up, including a trip to the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Haven has garnered a lot of attention in the past, most notably in 2011, when their status on campus and their relationship with the SPU administration was a hot topic of discussion. In February of that year, Haven’s right to meet on campus was revoked, which provoked a response from students, alumni and faculty.
“It was amazing to see an outpouring of support for Haven,” Estes said.
Both alumni and staff wrote letters in defense of the group, and Haven was restored to a recognized group with the abilities to meet and advertise on campus.
Haven is not currently an official club of ASSP, but Hutchinson says they’re okay with that for now.
“We might seek club status in the future,” Hutchinson said. “Right now, we’ve decided to define ourselves as a group first.”
Being a club also means being able to participate in Involve-O-Rama. The administration declined Haven’s request to take part in Involve-O-Rama this year.
“Club status is nice because it does tell the student body that this is something that the university recognizes and supports,” Estes added.
Currently, Haven is an officially recognized group under the Human Sexuality Advisory Committee.
“We have a very good relationship with the administration now,” Hutchinson said. “We definitely understand their viewpoint. We think that they understand ours and that they recognize the importance of Haven on SPU’s campus.”
President Daniel J. Martin’s arrival brought hope for Haven’s co-leaders.
“We feel that Dr. Martin coming is a chance for us to start fresh with the administration and establish a better relationship from the beginning. We would love for Dr. Martin to come to one of our meetings,” Estes said.
Since the events of two years ago, Haven has been less conspicuous.
“We are a little unknown right now,” Hutchinson said. “And that is intentional,” Estes said.
“We really want to focus on Haven as a community and not so much Haven as a cause,” Estes said.
“I think they’re doing a good job of just being here and just letting people know about them,” said sophomore Brandon Malde-Zoradi, a member of Haven.
Hutchinson and Estes have several activities planned for the group.
“We’ll definitely do Day of Silence again,” Hutchinson said.
Day of Silence is an event in April that high schools and colleges across the nation participate in every year. It is a day of silent protest to raise awareness for LGBT people who feel silenced in school because of bullying. Last year, Estes said, the response was “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Something else we’ll hopefully do this year is a pastor panel,” Hutchinson said.
In a pastor panel, pastors of different churches can come and talk about how people of different sexual orientations fit into their congregations and how they handle pastoral care toward the LGBT community. About 70 students attended the last pastor panel two years ago.
“I think a lot of people have the idea that it’s a gay group. But it’s a place for people to talk about all aspects of human sexuality. It’s equally important for straight people to go, too,” Malde-Zoradi said.
Freshman Brian McMillan said he came to the second Haven meeting of the year for information.
“I came here because I was interested in hearing more about the group. I wanted to both learn about the issues and learn about the stance of the different people in the group,” McMillan said.
Ultimately, Estes said people seem to be in support of Haven’s purpose, even if they’re not a part of the club. Hutchinson said that students are open to learning more about Haven.
“We are not an activist group. We are certainly not a protest group,” Hutchinson said. “I think it’s very important for Haven right now to define ourselves as what we want to be-- an open, discussion-based group.”
Malde-Zoradi agreed that Haven is necessary on campus.
“It’s kind of a difficult subject at SPU, and it’s such a taboo topic at least in the Christian community as a whole,” Malde-Zoradi said. “[Haven] is meant for questions and answers, and it’s a good place for people who have always been curious.”