By Elycia Fishman
Originally published on Advocate.com January 17 2012 8:14 PM ET
In an effort to make Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., a safer
environment for LGBT students and allies, an
online petition has been launched by Alexander Cooper, a senior and member of the unrecognized gay-straight alliance group Reach OUT.
The GSA applied November 9 to become an official student organization but was turned down the following month by the Churches of Christ–affiliated university's administrators. In the message accompanying his petition, Cooper said, “This is the fourth time that a gay-straight alliance has been denied or discouraged from applying.”
Cooper launched a Change.org petition over the weekend, and it has received 640 signatures as of Tuesday morning, with a goal of hitting 1,500. The petition urges administrators to consider officially recognizing Reach OUT.
Pepperdine's Office of Student Affairs issued a statement saying that recognizing Reach OUT would “imply to many that Pepperdine is not honoring our affiliation with the Churches of Christ.”
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges' 2011 accreditation report said. “Pepperdine’s ‘climate of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ prevents it from appearing ‘safe for open discourse.’”
Ironically, students at Pepperdine's school of public policy are encouraged to explore career opportunities with the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Gay Men's Health Crisis, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.