Last November, Fresno Pacific University denied a request from students to start an LGBTQ+ Pride club at the private, Christian college, citing “inconsistency” with its policies and alignment with the Mennonite faith. That didn’t deter students from starting the club and partnering with local faith organizations to host monthly meetings off-campus. It didn’t deter them from returning to the campus on Thursday to protest what they say is “the administration’s continuous neglect of LGBTQ+ students.”
More than two dozen students, alumni, and community and faith leaders marched to the university’s campus green carrying handmade signs and waving pride flags. Chants from the crowd could be heard around the green. “This is what Christianity looks like.”
The demonstration, organized by the Birds for Pride (named after the university’s sunbird mascot), was designed to draw attention to the university’s history with the LGBTQ+ community and happened as representatives from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges were visiting are school. WASC is the accrediting body for California schools. “The LGBTQ+ students of Fresno Pacific University are calling on WASC to open an investigation into Fresno Pacific University’s practices,”
Justin St. George, the Birds for Pride president, said in a statement released before the march. “President Joseph Jones time and time again refused to speak with LGBTQ+ students and even attempted to obstruct the student body and faculty over the last year. President Jones has caused irrevocable damage by leading with his cognitive bias, and not his Christian values. He has endangered the standing of the Central Valley’s only accredited Christian institution and has exposed the school to potential financial and legal liabilities.”
When asked about the demonstration on Thursday, the university referred to a statement issued by the school’s board and president following the denial of the LGBTQ+ Pride club. In it, the board said it after “careful consideration,” to the club, but found establishing the club “was not consistent with the Confession of Faith of the university,” or the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.
The above comes from a March 16 story in the Fresno Bee.