Editorial: Openness is key in Nondiscrimination Policy discussion

By The Beacon | September 26, 2013 12:38am

Something big is happening at UP today. University President Fr. Bill Beauchamp is meeting with the Board of Regents, and on their agenda is a discussion about the Nondiscrimination Policy. Whatever Beauchamp and the Regents decide, it is crucial that they be open and honest about the discussion.

Last year, when students affiliated with Redefine Purple Pride (RPP) voiced concerns about the absence of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Nondiscrimination Policy, they tried to create an open conversation. Students drafted an online petition and demonstrated in the Academic Quad to spark public discussion. During last year’s controversy, RPP member Shanay Healy, now an alum, emphasized that the goal of the movement was not to attack the administration, but to open a dialogue.

“It’s been important since the very beginning that this is not an attack,” Healy said. “This is collective. Everyone’s voices should be heard. Everyone’s concerns are valid.”

And the administration did respond publicly. Beauchamp published three letters in The Beacon and formed the Ad Hoc Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion (PACI) to hold listening sessions and make recommendations to the administration and Regents. Beauchamp also acknowledged the need for open discussion.

“We welcome and encourage spirited debate,” Beauchamp wrote in a letter to The Beacon. “On this and every issue, my hope is that we can engage with one another honestly and respectfully.”

But despite Beauchamp’s call for honest dialogue, parts of the Nondiscrimination Policy discussion have remained private. The PACI made recommendations to Beauchamp, which he will respond to with the Regents today, but those recommendations have not been shared with the community. A letter published April 11 in The Beacon said they would “be made available to the campus community in their entirety.”

In his Aug. 27 Convocation speech, Beauchamp assured the faculty and staff the recommendations were still on their way to being public.

“After consultation with the Board of Regents I will respond to each of these recommendations and share those responses with all of you,” Beauchamp said in the speech.

But in a truly honest and respectful discussion, those recommendations would have been available to the community when they were first given to the president. If the plan is to release the recommendations to the public, there is no need to wait until after the meeting.

The administration should make good on Beauchamp’s promise of honest dialogue by being open about the discussion at the Regents meeting. They should be prompt and forthright with the entire UP community about what the PACI recommendations are and how Beauchamp responded to them.

Whether the Board of Regents decides to alter the Nondiscrimination Policy, delay a decision until a later date or take no action, the campus community deserves to know what is going on.

The conversation is open. Let’s talk.