aAs a private entity, Boston University has the right to advocate its position on even the most controversial topics. As an institution of higher learning, BU is expected to take a stand on the issues that affect its campus and the larger community. BU is not being asked to advance homosexuality as a model of behavior. Students are simply requesting that their school prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.
BU does not have any legal obligation to change its anti-discrimination policy. However, the school has no good reason not to make a change.
Perhaps the Public Accommodations Law and the Housing Anti-discrimination Law are enough protection against discrimination, even on the BU campus.
If that is the case, why did the administration feel obliged to explicit ensure “the full realization of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or veteran status?” Certainly extant state and city law protects all these categories. But BU extended security on these issues. BU has made a distinction between race or religion and sexual orientation.
Protecting gays, lesbians or transgenders will not permit rampant pederasty and rape. There is a difference between protecting legal, consensual behavior and offering safety to illegal activities. No one is asking BU to permit crime.
Boston University might not want to offer the same benefits to the domestic partners as they do to married couples. This seems to be an example of BU not doing something since the law does not demand it — though United Airlines and the city of Cambridge have extended these benefits to all employees. BU should aspire to this ideal.
People guilty of discrimination must be held accountable for actions the University says are unallowable and intolerable. Right now, potential victims of crimes perpetrated against them because of their sexual orientation are not afforded the same security everyone now has for race, religion and gender.
Overall, BU has informally enforced a policy of not discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Princeton Review places BU in the top 5 percent of colleges nationwide for being gay-friendly, and there are upper-echelon administrators who are openly homosexual. Obviously, the school has no problem when its students or staff members are gay.
Learning is best done in an environment of comfort. Students are most receptive when a reasonable effort is made to ensure a feeling of security and support for them. If BU wants students with a sexual orientation to be as comfortable as students with a religion or a gender, it needs to offer them the same statement of support. But anyone with a sexual orientation should be provided with the same positive learning environment.
At a meeting last Thursday evening, 40 people gathered to decide how to proceed with this initiative, how to make their voice heard by the administration. The point was raised that more voices make a louder noise.
The more people that write letters, participate in rallies or speak their minds, the harder it is for the administration to dismiss the demand for change. This cause is in everyone’s interest. Presumably, most of the campus community would like to know that their sexual orientation is safe from bias and prejudice.
Of course, policy change will not end ignorance and hate, but it is a step in protecting students from discrimination.
Spectrum and its supporters are asking for a simple thing: add a few words to an existing policy. Perhaps it would be easier if the administration began to address this issue with another two words: why not?