The student campaign was officially launched Monday, March 6 by members of the St. Olaf Progressive Christian Fellowship (PCF), which Kegler leads.
Planning for the effort began at an RIC conference in October, when Emily Eastwood, Reconciling in Christ Executive with Lutherans Concerned / North America approached a St. Olaf delegation to inform them of the college RIC program.
The [St. Olaf] congregation joined the RIC roster years ago, offering the outstretched welcoming arms of Jesus without any fine print, Eastwood said. My hope is that the college will do the same.
The only college in the nation that is RIC is Augsburg College in Minneapolis. RIC is a GLBT-welcoming designation for congregations and organizations affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
In order to be named an RIC college, the institution must meet four requirements: inclusive policies in faculty and staff employment, student acceptance and degree awarding; an RIC congregation; GLBT support groups; and a statement of welcome from the Board of Regents.
St. Olaf fulfills all but the last requirement. An official statement would be influential.
If we are welcoming, but have no welcome statement, how will anyone know? said Director of Church Relations Janet Kringen Thompson.
The group has collected more than 600 signatures in the last two weeks. Kegler plans to present the petition to the Student Senate before the end of the month. From there, she hopes the Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) will present the petition to the Board of Regents.
If the petition is successful, Thompson foresees a deeper exploration of on-campus attitudes.
Internally, I believe this would raise the consciousness of students, faculty and staff about how we do or do not welcome GLBT people, Thompson said. I hope it would help us all think more deeply before automatically assuming everyone is heterosexual.
More information and the text of the proposed affirmation of welcome can be found at sto-ric.blogspot.com.