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caption: A sign in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff hangs in the window on Seattle Pacific University's campus.
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A sign in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff hangs in the window on Seattle Pacific University's campus.
Credit: Noel Gasca

'This doesn't feel like love': SPU students sit-in for LGBTQ equality on campus

The end-of-the-quarter crunch is looking a little different for some students at Seattle Pacific University.

They're juggling classes, homework, campus jobs... and now, a sit-in outside the interim-president's office.

Students organized the sit-in because of the board of trustees' decision to reaffirm the school's employee lifestyle expectation policy, which bans the hiring of LGBTQ employees.

The board of trustees says the policy was made to align with the beliefs of the school's founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA.

A statement on behalf of the board also says the decision reflects the school's identity as an evangelical institution of faith.

But students at SPU are pushing back. Inside Demaray Hall, students have settled in for the long haul, and say they'll keep fighting until the policy is overturned.

Soundside Producer Noel Gasca went to SPU's campus to check out the sit-in and talk to students.

caption: SPU nursing student Reena Sidhu stands next to a chart categorizing each member of SPU's board of trustees based on their position on the employee lifestyle expectation policy. Sidhu says the employee lifestyle policy has impacted the nursing program's ability to recruit and retain instructors, which then impacts students. 
"I understand it's a theological issue, but [the board of trustees] is not letting the university be a place of education, and that's not acceptable," Sidhu said.
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SPU nursing student Reena Sidhu stands next to a chart categorizing each member of SPU's board of trustees based on their position on the employee lifestyle expectation policy. Sidhu says the employee lifestyle policy has impacted the nursing program's ability to recruit and retain instructors, which then impacts students. "I understand it's a theological issue, but [the board of trustees] is not letting the university be a place of education, and that's not acceptable," Sidhu said.
Credit: Noel Gasca
caption: Zach Nacke and his partner, Hannah Peek, sitting together on the floor of Demaray Hall. Nacke says he came to SPU specifically to strengthen his faith and connection to God, but the board of trustees decision to uphold the employee lifestyle policy has been frustrating. "How can I still be a Christian, at a Christian school, when I'm being told certain Christian values that don't represent what I feel about Christianity?" Nacke asked.
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Zach Nacke and his partner, Hannah Peek, sitting together on the floor of Demaray Hall. Nacke says he came to SPU specifically to strengthen his faith and connection to God, but the board of trustees decision to uphold the employee lifestyle policy has been frustrating. "How can I still be a Christian, at a Christian school, when I'm being told certain Christian values that don't represent what I feel about Christianity?" Nacke asked.
Credit: Noel Gasca
caption: The entrance to the sit-in space inside Demaray Hall on Seattle Pacific University's campus.
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The entrance to the sit-in space inside Demaray Hall on Seattle Pacific University's campus.
caption: SPU senior Cambria Judd-Babbitt enjoys a coffee after spending another night sleeping on the floor outside interim-President Pete Menjares's office.
 "The fun thing about the sleepovers here is that the lights do not fully turn off," Judd-Babbitt said. "So yesterday someone was kind enough order a bunch of sleep masks, and I think that's how we survived the night."
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SPU senior Cambria Judd-Babbitt enjoys a coffee after spending another night sleeping on the floor outside interim-President Pete Menjares's office. "The fun thing about the sleepovers here is that the lights do not fully turn off," Judd-Babbitt said. "So yesterday someone was kind enough order a bunch of sleep masks, and I think that's how we survived the night."
Credit: Noel Gasca
caption: Lia Harper(left) and her roommate hangout during the sit-in. Harper is currently in a play on campus, and says when she's not in class or performing, she's at the sit-in. "Your employer should have no right to know what you're doing in your house and your own sheets," Harper said.
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Lia Harper(left) and her roommate hangout during the sit-in. Harper is currently in a play on campus, and says when she's not in class or performing, she's at the sit-in. "Your employer should have no right to know what you're doing in your house and your own sheets," Harper said.
Credit: Noel Gasca


Host Libby Denkmann also talked to Binghamton University Professor Adam Laats about the deep-rooted connection between Christianity and the United States' educational institutions.