‘Nova on LGBT Inclusion

Villanova University hosts Community Forum on LGBT Inclusion

University President Addresses the Campus Community Regarding the Canceled Event with Tim Miller

Villanova, PA — The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC) was in attendance at a Tuesday night meeting put together by a Villanova student and addressed by university president Father Peter Donohue.

The two hour meeting, which hosted upwards of 200 students, faculty members and administration officials, served as a direct response to last week’s abrupt cancelation of openly gay performance artist Tim Miller’s previously scheduled week-long workshop.

“I apologize to members of the community who felt offended,” Donohue said. “That was not our intent.”

Father Donohue continued to clarify that he had learned of the event on Feb. 10, and decided to cancel the event after two weeks of receiving a “flood” of emails from alumni and parents as well as noted backlash from Catholic watchdog group the Cardinal Newman Society. The reverend also expressed that the decision was based on anticipated uproar in the larger community and a lack of time to “wrap around a unified message,” but nonetheless asserts that the decision was in no way made because Miller is gay.

“We are not a homophobic institution,” he said. “I am not homophobic; it is not something we should stand for…if that is evident, I need to know that, and we’ll address it.” He went on to speak about inclusion of LGBT members of the Villanova community: “my first priority is supporting the community, all of the community; the nature of the gospel calls us to do that.” He continues to state that “if any of us are being singled out or discriminated against – first, foremost, and strongly we will deal with it.”

Heidi Rose, assistant professor of communications at Villanova and organizer of the canceled event, urged the university to issue a direct apology to Miller.

“[Tim] is desperately hurt and outraged,” Rose said. “We own him an apology… if we are going to be Augustinian we need to address this.”

PSEC commends Father Donohue for taking accountability and creating dialogue between administration officials and members of the Villanova community. PSEC hopes that, going forward, the university administration will continue to stand behind its LGBT members who so desperately rely on them as a proponent of acceptance and equality.

Discrimination at Villanova?

Discrimination at Villanova University?

Villanova, PA—The Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC) is deeply disappointed by Villanova University’s regressive decision on Monday to cancel revered LGBTQ performance artist Tim Miller’s scheduled appearance at the university, and calls on administration officials to reconsider their stance.

“To be in line with their own mission, which is laid-out as being ‘in search for world peace and justice,’ and to ‘fully comply with all the requirements of federal and state legislation with respect to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination,’ the Villanova University administration should reverse its decision to deny its students the opportunity for exploration and learning within the Catholic tradition,” PSEC Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman said.

Designed to be an informal, week-long workshop on the changing culture of diversity and the continuing importance of feeling comfortable with self-identity, Miller has performed at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, including DePaul University, the Chicago-based Catholic school where Miller was reported to be warmly received by both students and faculty.

PSEC is disheartened by Villanova’s seeming allowance of politics and prejudice to overshadow what media outlets nationwide have praised as a thought-provoking and impactful experience for young college students.

Julia Arduini, co-head of Villanova’s Gay Straight Coalition and a co-founder of PSEC, expresses particular discouragement as an otherwise proud student and member of the Main Line community.

“For the past four years, I have felt incredibly supported as a gay student at Villanova University,” Arduini said. “This is out of line with my positive experience as a student; this is the first time I’ve been unsupported by my own school.”

PSEC will continue to monitor the controversy as new details emerge.

PSEC leaders at Villanova releasing balloons marking the end of the Day of Silence – April 2011