Redefine Purple Pride gives Beauchamp ultimatum

By The Beacon | April 10, 2013 9:00pm

Movement demands response to questions about Nondiscrimination Policy

(Giovanna Solano)

By Philip Ellefson Staff Writer, Kelsey Thomas Staff Writer

Members of the Redefine Purple Pride movement have created a video and drafted a letter to University President Fr. Bill Beauchamp asking for a response to their continued requests for a transparent conversation about the absence of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Nondiscrimination Policy.

The group said they plan to protest on campus a second time if they do not hear a response by Friday, but they would not say what time the demonstration would be.

Laurie Kelley, associate vice president of University Relations and chief marketing officer, said the administration had started working on a response before seeing the video. A letter from Beauchamp to the University community regarding Redefine Purple Pride appears in today's issue of The Beacon.

Beauchamp wrote that the Ad Hoc committee will draft recommendations about the Statement on Inclusion, on-campus programs and any possible changes to the Nondiscrimination Policy.

Beauchamp said it is up to the Board of Regents to consider changing the Nondiscrimination Policy and to vote on the issue.

"The Board will be briefed on the issues being discussed by the PACI at its May meetings, and will be informed that recommendations will be forthcoming in the summer months," he said in the letter.

Sunday night, Redefine Purple Pride posted the video "Redefine Purple Pride: a Message to Fr. Beauchamp" on YouTube. The video had received more than 1,000 views as of Wednesday night.

"We desire nothing more than to achieve a socially just community where everyone feels cared for, loved, and celebrated - regardless of their identities," the video said.

Students also hand-delivered a formal letter to Beauchamp's office at 12:30 p.m. Monday and emailed every staff and faculty member a link to the video.

"We hope that this letter will solicit a direct response from you, outlining the process and timeline of the PACI committee as well as the legality of the discussed changes to the non-discrimination policy," the letter said.

On April 2, 3 and 4, the Ad Hoc Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion held confidential listening sessions for students, faculty and staff to voice concerns about inclusion, diversity and nondiscrimination.

While students associated with Redefine Purple Pride said the sessions were a step in the right direction, some felt the meetings didn't address the issue.

"I think a lot of people walked up away just unsure what the ad hoc committees took from students that would be used by administration," junior Patrick Throckmorton said.

In a letter published Feb. 28 in The Beacon, Beauchamp addressed students, faculty and staff of UP, stating that the University does not discriminate.

"I am committed to fostering a community at the University of Portland that is welcoming and respectful of each and every member," Beauchamp wrote.

The video asks Beauchamp to address what the administration will do with the information from the PACI meetings and what the next steps are.

According to Kelley, the administration is committed to resolving the issue.

"This isn't going to die when everyone graduates and we go into summer," she said. "We're still working very hard on it."

Sophomore Matthew Gadbois said the possible demonstration shows Redefine Purple Pride's persistence in being heard.

"If we haven't heard anything [by Friday], we'll make plans to do something again that shows that just because we're being ignored doesn't mean we're going to shut up," Gadbois said.

Gadbois declined to give the date of the potential demonstration but said Redefine Purple Pride will distribute fliers to prospective freshmen and parents during Weekend on the Bluff informing them of the controversy.