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My school is being sued:

A Chicago professor filed a complaint Wednesday against North Park University for sexual and religious discrimination, claiming the school will not hire her because she is openly gay.

Barbara Kelly, a psychologist and professor at Argosy University in Rolling Meadows, filed the complaint with the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations under the city's Human Rights Ordinance.
The complaint alleges that North Park University, a private Christian liberal arts school where Kelly taught part-time for two years, encouraged her to apply for a full-time teaching position, vetted her for it, and then rejected her because administrators said she would be "too controversial."

"The administration recruited me on the basis of my teaching and experience, knowing about my sexual orientation," said Kelly. "Now, they're saying I can't be hired because of it. It's a shock, really."

This is part of the e-mail we all got yesterday:

North Park University is a Christian university owned and operated by the Evangelical Covenant Church; our hiring policies reflect our Christian mission and our relationship to our sponsoring denomination. These policies state that “full-time faculty are expected to be committed Christians in faith and action, as traditionally understood by the Evangelical Covenant Church.” The perspective of the Covenant Church with respect to sexual ethics is expressed in a 1996 Annual Meeting Resolution on Human Sexuality. This Resolution states in part, “God created people male and female, and provided for the marriage relationship in which two may become one. A publicly declared, legally binding marriage between one woman and one man is the one appropriate place for sexual intercourse. Heterosexual marriage, faithfulness within marriage, abstinence outside of marriage—these constitute the Christian standard.” Church statements such as this inform our University’s decisions related to personnel and other matters.

I don't know what to think about this. Actually, that's not true. I know what to think about it -- it fucking sucks, and it's wrong, and why the hell am I going to spend the next ten years paying off an education delivered at the hands of ignorant bigots? So that's what I think about it. But I don't know what to do about it.

I knew going into this program that NPU was a Christian school, and I asked the admissions people right up front if my heathen ways were going to be a problem. They said no. And, honestly, religion hasn't come up at all in my classes. I haven't been preached at, no one has attempted to indoctrinate me, and the variety of impressive nonprofits that send their employees to this school has convinced me that this is a good program, academically speaking.

As a private employer NPU is well within their rights, I guess, to make their faculty's personal lives conform to the mission of their church, no matter how much I might disagree. But is a degree from this place going to be a liability for me down the road? If I apply for a job at a feminist or queer-friendly or just plain humane organization, is a North Park master's going to brand me an intolerant homophobe? ("Oh, you went there? The place that wouldn't hire the nice lesbian?")

On the other hand, my choices are limited. The other schools in the area that offer nonprofit management degrees are Roosevelt (which I considered, but didn't pursue agresssively), DePaul, and St. Xavier. Those last two are Catholic universities, which makes them about as likely as NPU to have tolerant and enlightened views of homosexuality. And without a degree from somewhere, I'm unlikely to get the job I want. Hell, I'm not even having any luck getting an entry-level position anywhere without the proper experience.

Am I damned if I do, and damned if I don't?

Replies: 13 Confessions

Hmmm. You talk as though you're at the school only as long as they tolerate your sinfully liberal ways. But you're paying to be there, right? You're the customer, AmyC! If you don't like the way they manage the place, tell 'em! (And stay in school.)

CupaJoe @ 12/04/2003 06:58 PM CST


Well, it's not like this is a surprise - they've been very up front about who they are, and now they are abiding by their principles. Are they asking you - or teaching you - to be discriminatory? Doesn't sound like it.
Everywhere I go these days, I see problems with the correlative theory of rights and duties - if this nice lesbian has a right to equal employment opportunities, does everyone have a duty to hire her whether they want to or not? If I have a right to life, do you have to give me your liver?
My advice: Keep your commitment and stay in school.

elavil @ 12/05/2003 08:15 AM CST


I don't think NPU has to hire her (though they certainly courted her pretty aggressively, and she already teaches there part time). But I don't like financially supporting an institution that won't hire a qualified applicant simply because of who that person shares a bed with. North Park is entitled to hire whomever they want, but they're not entitled to my tuition money if they're gonna be jerks about it, is all I'm saying.

amyc @ 12/05/2003 10:51 AM CST


You know, I thought they were paying most of your tuition money.

elavil @ 12/05/2003 11:13 AM CST


They're paying a lot of it (40%). I'm paying the rest through loans.

But, what are you saying? There's no point in being concerned or angry or disappointed about this lawsuit?

amyc @ 12/05/2003 11:40 AM CST


I think they are operating on principles that they have always been straightforward about - not like some we could name. So I think what I'm saying is that this action of theirs is consistent, not new, and so should not warrant a new set of decisions. Of course I'm concerned about their principles, but if I want people to respect mine, I have to respect theirs. It's the lies I can't take.

elavil @ 12/05/2003 11:44 AM CST


I agree with elavil. stay in the program, tell them you are not happy about not hiring the prof.

I will add that depaul and St.X, both have queer profs, and St. X even has a gay student org. I know the catholic church is rightly on your shit list, but most catholic universities are queer friendly.

shechemist @ 12/05/2003 12:15 PM CST


Well, I plan to stay in the program, but I'm not entirely comfortable with that decision. I just hope the school's reputation doesn't become like that of, say, Regent U or Liberty U -- you know, nutjob religious school run by bigots.

amyc @ 12/05/2003 12:20 PM CST


I would add that I would be MUCH more outraged if they were discriminatory about students, either in selection or in their treatment of enrolled students, but you assert that they're not. Academic jobs (outside of nursing) are a buyer's market just now, with often hundreds of candidates for each. I think it stinks that they recruited this woman and then shut the door, but I don't think they betrayed YOU, the student.

elavil @ 12/05/2003 12:20 PM CST


I hope it doesn't either.

I understand why you are uncomfortable. I do. I am baffled that they asked her to apply and then pulled support for her. I am wondering if something else happened. not that the prof did something, but someone decided they didn't want her and they stupidly used this instead of just telling her "oh sorry, we hired someone else."

shechemist @ 12/05/2003 12:26 PM CST


I'm not saying they have to/don't have to hire the woman or anything, but what you said about their policies...

"abstinence outside of marriage"

do you really think that any single people they might be employing are staying abstinent outside of marriage? That's a rarity these days.

BoredRandazzo @ 12/10/2003 07:08 PM CST


I can't belive North Park is being so bigoted. Well, yes I can. North Park used to hide its fundamentalist christian history behind a cosmopolitan face. Sounds like the current administration are putting the bigotry up-front. Maybe they are trying to market more agressively to fundamentalist families? I know they had at least one semi-closeted lesbian teaching there 20 years ago. I'm sorry to hear they are getting more bigoted, instead of moving with the times. I'd get out of there, if I were you. A degree from DePaul would be more credible once you've graduated. My friend is a social worker, she went to NPU, and she feels her degree from a little christian school works against her when she's going for jobs and promotions. Good luck!

appalled @ 07/26/2004 10:54 AM CST


I can't belive North Park is being so bigoted. Well, yes I can. North Park used to hide its fundamentalist christian history behind a cosmopolitan face. Sounds like the current administration are putting the bigotry up-front. Maybe they are trying to market more agressively to fundamentalist families? I know they had at least one semi-closeted lesbian teaching there 20 years ago. I'm sorry to hear they are getting more bigoted, instead of moving with the times. I'd get out of there, if I were you. A degree from DePaul would be more credible once you've graduated. My friend is a social worker, she went to NPU, and she feels her degree from a little christian school works against her when she's going for jobs and promotions. Good luck!

appalled @ 07/26/2004 10:56 AM CST


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