In the long running controversy regarding the Sexuality Statement in the Student Code of Conduct, Seaver College’s Student Government Association took a new step. On April 6th, SGA passed Resolution 11-S22, which would eliminate a portion of the statement on sexual morality from the Student Code of Conduct. The statement from the Code of Conduct that would be eliminated under this resolution reads as follows:
“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.”
Under the new resolution, this portion of the Code of Conduct would be abrogated in its entirety. Based upon the resolution, it seems only this section would be removed and the rest of the statement on sexual conduct would remain. The entire statement, as well as Pepperdine’s response to questions regarding LGTBQ+ can be found here.
SGA members cited the sentiments of Pepperdine students who identify as LGTBQ+ in their reasoning for passing the resolution. Lauren Miles, who conducted the study cited in the resolution, testified in the SGA hearing that the sample size was 40 Seaver Students according to Beacon reporter Mason Dees who was present. Neither this sample size, nor the study were made available within the public SGA resolution. Of the 40 survey respondents, 85% responded favorably to eliminating this university statement.
Neither Miles nor SGA President Chase Johnson, nor other members of SGA responded to requests to comment on Resolution 11-S22. The resolution passed with 80% of the SGA votes; 12 were in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstained.
The resolution lists perspectives on LGTBQ+ issues and on the statement in the student Code of Conduct. One student who spoke to SGA on condition of anonymity claimed that the university’s position “‘directly incites devaluation of those within it through its rejection of a non-heterosexual lifestyle.’” Another anonymous student believes that the Code of Conduct statement “‘sets a precedent for hate and harassment against LGTBQ+ students.’” The student says, “‘since the University doesn’t approve of your existence, then it excuses the awful behavior of people against you.’” Another anonymous student said in the resolution, “‘The presence of this statement has heavily impacted my time at Pepperdine. It has erased my own identity and continues to invalidate the identities and values of many students in that community.”
According to proponents of the resolution, in addition to current students who disagree with the university’s stance on sexuality, there are at least a few prospective undergraduates who were dissuaded from attending because of the Code of Conduct. “I met with one student who was offered a spot as a Regents Scholar but was contemplating turning it down because this statement felt hostile and made him feel like there will never be a place for him on campus,” Hope Lockwood, a junior at Seaver, informed SGA.
Not all students agreed with resolution 11-S22. A Seaver senior, who spoke to the Beacon on condition of anonymity, said, “One ought to pause and reflect in the face of a universal witness to the impermissibility of same sex relations from the Fathers of the early church and local or ecumenical synods. Why would those Christians reject same sex relations if this is not in fact what the Scriptures teach? Given the Gospel’s call to denial of our own desires and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ, I think we need some better justification than causing people more comfort and ease.”
Besides students, a number of Pepperdine’s faculty also disapprove of 11-S22. When asked for comment, Dr. Yuengert responded:
“The resolution focuses on the two lines in the code that I believe are undoubtedly true–that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and that Christian marriage is one man, one woman. It is entirely appropriate for a Christian university community to affirm this longstanding moral witness…In this SGA resolution there is nothing but contempt for Pepperdine’s affirmation of 2000 years of Christian teaching.”
According to Resolution 11-S22, there were professors who supported this resolution. Professors Kevin Iga and Bryant Crubaugh were “incredibly helpful in the facilitation” of conversations between SGA Council Directors and the University Diversity Council. Professor Angela Smith was also cited as offering “insight on how to best deliver on the success of this resolution in the future.”
Aside from opinions of members of the student body, the SGA argues for its resolution by alleging the university’s stance creates division among the student body and undermines the inclusive atmosphere Pepperdine seeks to create. SGA hopes by passing resolution 11-S22 to eliminate the university’s stance against homosexual and transgender lifestyles. Now that 11-S22 has passed, SGA will work with the University Diversity Council to make it official university policy. While an exact timeline of making resolution 11-S22 binding is unclear, the University Diversity Council would likely work to make it official Pepperdine policy as soon as possible.