University of the Cumberlands Speaks

After expelling a student for coming out on his MySpace profile, The University of the Cumberlands has issued a press release explaining why they felt it was in Jason’s best interests to give him the boot. How nice of them, hmm?

jason_johnson.jpegCumberlands administrators felt Jason’s publicly-announced gayness went against their “honor code,” as he was engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage. Honestly, we have no idea if Jason’s profile said anything about buggery–it certainly doesn’t now, other than saying he’s “in a relationship.” Perhaps they sat him down and asked him. They say the issue is “sex outside of marriage,” but are they asking everyone on campus if they’re having sex? We think not. If you’re going to kick someone out for being gay, just say so, don’t lie and say it’s something else. What a bunch of wimps.

It’s the old Catch-22: You can’t have sex until you get married, but gay people can’t get married, so someday you’re going to have sex outside of marriage and why not punish you for it now? We think it goes without saying that if Tom Cruise made a movie about it, then perhaps your stance is a little bit off.

This is the kind of homophobia that really burns us. The Fred Phelps wack-jobs of the world are much easier to deal with in a way, because at least they are honest. When people package their bigotry in nicey-nice language, as if they’re looking out for your best interests by telling you what a horrible person you are, iIt all sounds so polite, so logical…when really, they’re making it as nice as possible because they know what they are doing is cruel and humiliating. Perhaps people won’t notice if they say it with a smile. It’s like the nun on Desperate Housewives, gnashing her pearly-whites at Gabrielle Solis while stealing her husband as if God wanted it all to happen. Infuriating.

Read below:

Statement of James Taylor, President
University of the Cumberlands

Until now, the University has been unable to participate in the public discussion regarding Jason Johnson. Federal student privacy laws prohibit the University from disclosing records relating to students, including the disciplinary actions of the University.

Today the University and Jason reached an agreement which allows the University to speak, and allows him to complete this semester’s course work for full academic credit.

Jason was suspended by the University for violating the University’s code of conduct, which clearly states that students should not engage in sex outside of marriage, including homosexual acts, and that students who engage in such conduct may be suspended. We do not spy on our students and we do not put their personal lives under the microscope to find out who may be violating this policy. However, when it is brought to the administration’s attention, as it was in Jason’s case, that a student may be violating the code of conduct, the University investigates the charges and addresses any violations.

The University’s mission is based on a specific set of beliefs and principles rooted in its religious faith. The student code of conduct is designed to recognize and advance those principles. The University’s mission, beliefs, and code of conduct for students are not secret – they are well-known to the students who chose to attend the University of the Cumberlands.

Our policy with respect to sex outside of marriage is entirely lawful. No federal, state or local law has been violated. Not everyone likes the University’s policy. But the University does not establish policy on the basis of popularity or political correctness; our policies are rooted in the values of the institution.

Jason admitted that he did not share the University’s beliefs, nor agree with this part of the code of conduct. After speaking with Jason, the University suspended him. Jason appealed that suspension.

Jason has had an admirable academic career at the University of the Cumberlands. It has never been my desire to see Jason’s academic future damaged by this incident. When Jason appealed his suspension, the university worked with Jason to reach an agreement that allows Jason to finish this semester’s work and transfer to another institution with his academic record intact. [Okay, just so you know: this was the agreement. Yet see how he makes it sound like he’s trying to help Jason out?] Jason’s suspension was rescinded, and Jason is free to pursue his academic career at an institution which has values more in line with his own. The University of the Cumberlands has not changed its code of conduct for students, and we do not plan to change it.

The University admits and welcomes students without regard to race, national origin, age, religion, or disability. The University has both male and female students and works hard to create a campus community which is respectful of both genders, and an environment which develops the students both academically and socially. However, all students who come to the University of the Cumberlands must understand that, regardless of their personal beliefs or opinions, students must comply with the University’s code of conduct as long as they are enrolled at the University.

Some have argued that because of the University’s Christian values it should not receive public funds to assist the University in its plans to provide for the state a much needed school of pharmacy. The University is only one of hundreds of nonprofit charities which serve the citizens of the state by providing education, health care, child protection, or other social services. The federal and state governments have developed models by which government and faith-based institutions may work together to meet critical public needs. The University believes the state’s grant to assist the University in building a school of pharmacy is in that tradition. The University is grateful to the state and pleased to be able to create this new program which will be significant for health care in Kentucky.

The University is and will continue to be fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education for schools in the University’s geographic region. The University will, at the appropriate time, apply for accreditation of its pharmacy program with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The University expects its pharmacy program to meet all of the ACPE’s standards and to receive its accreditation.