On Saturday, January 4, the men’s basketball team of the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco faced off against the Pepperdine Waves at USF’s War Memorial gym. The game was also billed as an LGBTQ Community Celebration. The Upcoming Events page on the USF Dons website read: “Featuring Performances by the SF Gay Men’s Chorus and Cheer SF. LGBTQ community leaders will be recognized. For $10 tickets use promo code EQUALITY at checkout.”
Memorial gym was at about 50% of capacity. According to the announcer, the Gay Men’s Chorus sang the national anthem, but that must have happened well before tip-off. About 11 minutes into the game, during a time-out, the announcer asked for a round of applause for the two co-chairs of the Jesuit school’s LGBTQ Caucus. As the two went to center court, the announcer briefly described the mission of the LGBTQ Caucus, and said it had its roots in the Jesuit tradition. He went on to say that last year 75 members (students and faculty) of USF had marched in San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade. He then encouraged the crowd “to join the USF contingent in this year’s parade on June 29, 2014.”
It is fortuitous that the first ever LGBTQ celebration coincided with a game against Pepperdine. Both USF and Pepperdine are religiously founded and affiliated schools: USF with the Society of Jesus, and Pepperdine with the Churches of Christ. While USF has an LGBTQ Caucus (not to mention openly homosexualist professors and priests) Pepperdine allows no such group. Indeed, Pepperdine’s refusal to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus has led to demands, including a petition on change.org, that the school recognize such a group. So far Pepperdine has held firm.
It does have an LGBT Legal Society “…for the limited purposes of discussing LGBT-related legal issues and networking for legal employment or professional development” and, in 2013, Pepperdine created a needs-based scholarship available to those who “advocate and promote the health (mental or physical) and wellness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.” But it still does not allow the Gay-Straight Alliance.
Respective statements from the school’s handbooks on sexual relations on campus are equally divergent. Pepperdine: “In keeping with Pepperdine University’s Christian mission and its heritage in Churches of Christ, all members of the University community are encouraged to consider and respect the teachings of Jesus and historic, biblical Christianity. Pepperdine University affirms that sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between husband and wife. This view of sexuality and marriage is rooted in the Genesis account of creation and is maintained consistently throughout Scripture. Sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage are inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture, as understood by Christian churches throughout history, including Churches of Christ. Therefore, as a matter of moral and faith witness, all members of the University are expected to avoid such conduct themselves and to respect this understanding of sexual relationships.”
By contrast, Jesuit USF’s Overview of Sexual Misconduct Policy Expectations mentions neither marriage nor Christianity nor Jesus. The only misconduct the Jesuit school mentions is “consent,” or lack thereof (to what is not specified): “The expectations of our community regarding sexual misconduct can be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity.”
The players were unconcerned with the extraneous activities. Behind a strong defense, Pepperdine held USF to 19 points in the first half, and led 27-19 at the break. But with less than a minute remaining in the half, the Waves lost one of their best players, Malcolm Brooks, and he was out for the rest of the game. USF’s coach, Rex Walters, made adjustments at halftime, and in the second half, behind three-point shooting by forward Mark Tollefson (16 points) and guard Tim Derksen (15 points) the Dons overcame the deficit and pulled away to win 77-66.