Concordia University, a conservative Lutheran college in Northeast Portland, has reversed a previous decision to block a student group that supports LGBTQ students after WW wrote about the school's apparent attempts to quash the club.
"We remain committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we support all students, particularly people from groups who have historically been marginalized," university president Charles Schlimpert said in an open letter today announcing the decision to approve the club's charter after all.
With an approved charter, the Queer Straight Alliance will be allowed to reserve campus space for meetings and events and use student fees to pay for activities.
The club's members say they discovered the university's apparent about-face through the open letter but had not been contacted by administrators directly at any point in the past week.
"What is clearly missing from this statement is an apology or admittance of fault on behalf of the university," the Queer Straight Alliance said in a statement responding to the open letter. "We fear that [Concordia's] policies will continue to discriminate against clubs and events when they seem to misalign with [Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod] doctrine and values… We are reticent to reinstate the QSA under these policies, which clearly do not allow for the celebration, empowerment, or advocacy of the LGBTQ+ community."
Despite their skepticism, the members of the student group say they are excited that the university has offered to create a "safe space program, with staffing, for LGBTQ+ students" and has committed to facilitating trainings to educate staff on how to support LGBTQ students.
The club's charter had previously been denied with a demand that the club remove language that the school said violated its policies but students felt was essential to the purpose of the club. It's unclear whether the school plans to change its policies or has decided to interpret the charter as in compliance with the rules.
Concordia University had a history of discriminating against the Queer Straight Alliance before it rejected the club's charter. In June, a Title IX review found that the university had violated its non-discrimination policy by forcing the club to change its name and cancelling its on-campus events.
After the violation, the university altered its policies related to club charter requirements and those changes led the school to deny the Queer Straight Alliance's charter in December.
The Portland State University Vanguard first reported on the club's peril on Jan. 16, and WW published its examination of the school's policies the following morning.
Now that it has decided to approve the Queer Straight Alliance charter, the college says it will "re-open the discussion around the club and events policy."