Huge Haven Update from Thursday’s Meeting

REMINDER:  Come celebrate Haven this Sunday night at 8:00 in Demaray 150!  The leaders will give us an update and discuss moving forward!

From Caleb Richmond, Haven Leader:

As promised, here are further details about yesterday and our thoughts on the decisions.


As you saw in his email earlier this week, Dr Les Steele called a meeting of the Human Sexuality Advisory Group (HSAG) and invited all of the Haven leaders to attend. At this meeting last night, which he presided over, he gave us outlines for how Haven will be treated in the future. This occured almost 1 month to the day after our meeting with Dr Jordan. </span>


The sheet of paper was titled “Moving Forward with Haven and Conversations Regarding Human Sexuality.” and started out with the following:


“Our goal is to respond to the need of our students to have “safe space” for conversations regarding human sexuality including sexual orientation. Haven has been one such space among others. Here is our proposal for a way forward:


– Haven becomes a formal group with full rights to reserve space and advertise on campus.

– Human Sexuality co-curricular programming (e.g., Let’s Talk About Sex, Haven, and Naked) is under the auspices of the Human Sexuality Advisory Group (HSAG).

– Student leaders do not need to personally agree to the Human Sexuality Statement, but must agree to respect the statement as the University’s position.

– While HSAG is responsible to advise on the totality of human sexuality programming, we ask them to focus on assisting Haven to become a safe space for the discussion of sexual orientation. We also ask HSAG to help us keep alive other safe spaces for all aspects of human sexuality.”


After going through these points, he turned the meeting over to discussion and clarifying questions.


The advisory group is made up of staff members from The Office of Student Life and selected faculty members currently; the exact composition may change in the future. We spent a long time discussing how this would play out in practical situations such as approval of week to week meetings. They indicated that they do not want to be an approval group but rather a resource and advising group. It sounds like Haven will probably provide general quarterly event plans for discussion and advisement to the group but that there is going to be room for flexibility. It is also clear that this group does not exist just for Haven but as a comprehensive umbrella for coordinating the campus discussion on sexuality, including sexual identity conversations and heterosexual sexual practices and behaviors.


This is a very big move for the University administration. Les is basically handing over the reigns completely to HSAG and washing his hands of this. He offered an apology of sorts for any confusion of motives and for causing people to feel silenced. He said he has been trying to work to please multiple constituencies but he has heard the voice of Haven. He also said that he wants to move forward with trust and respect with Haven.


In that light, Haven wants to show the same trust and respect for the University. We hope we can move forward from the past confusions and misunderstandings. The HSAG board really does seem to have the best interests of the student body in mind. There will be alot of work in the following weeks done to solidfy exactly what this will look like. Haven representatives and our advisor, Dr Neuhouser, will be a large part of this group and we will be able to work out the details.


In many ways, this is further than Haven has ever come with the University. We are now a formally recognized group and we have not only the right to reserve rooms (hopefully without month-to-month uncertainty) but advertising rights on campus which has been a major battle for the last 4 years. This is definitely the result of the enormous outcry from the student body, the support from the faculty and staff, the constant alumni efforts for the last month, and the community disapproval of last months’ decision.


What we do not have in this agreement is club status. At SPU, a club is a formally organized student group that has approval and funding from the student government (ASSP). We are not terribly concerned about the funding aspect but there is a lot of symbolism involved in being approved by our peers and by going through the official steps that are supposed to happen. We do not want the precedence of this “special” treatment of Haven to allow for this to happen in the future. Club status is still our long term goal. However, there are other formal groups on campus that are not clubs so this is not totally unprecedented.


What we need to determine is if we should press for club status now or work towards it slowly. This is a big move for the University and we do not want to downplay that. However, this argument for the last 4 years has always been about club status and equal recognition. If Haven is “seperate but equal” it implies that there is something about sexuality that is “different” or more dangerous than other topics. We also do not want to lose the momentum we have gained in the last month. However, we also think that we need to respect this group and the University. We think this group has the ability to work with us towards club status in the future and it was discussed in the meeting. We will be bringing it up for discussion in this Sunday’s meeting.


The signs that things truly are changing are already present. We have reserved one of the largest rooms on campus, Demaray 150, for our meeting on Sunday night, 8-10 pm. This is open to all our members, supporters, alumni, faculty and community members. We are already expecting 200 people. This room reservation allows us to get closer to holding this capacity and represents the fulfilment of our fight the last month.


Thank you everyone for following this situation, especially if you have expressed your views to SPU.


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