Students subjuected to mass email controversy

Danny Mooers—Managing Editor

Illicit emails and anonymous support groups have found their way onto Dordt’s campus.

In recent weeks, Dordt students have received two unauthorized emails, both of which have prompted apology emails. The first was from Sacha Walicord, an associate professor of Business Administration, promoting a Creation Science Conference. The Siouxland Reformation Society was hosting it on Dordt’s campus. In Walicord’s apology, he mentioned that since the conference was not a Dordt-sponsored event, he had no permission to send the initial email.

The second unauthorized email was sent courtesy of LEAP (Love Education Acceptance Pride). This email was sent to all of the seniors on Dordt’s campus, according to representatives of LEAP. It was sent out to promote LEAP, a support group for LGBTQ students who attend Dordt and Northwestern. Eric Forseth, Dordt’s Provost, responded by encouraging students to not lash out to LEAP and to “keep a level head and Christ-like response.”

There is currently no LGBTQ group available on Dordt’s campus, and LEAP decided to offer theirs to any Dordt student searching for one.

LEAP received access to Dordt email addresses through an unidentified source with a Dordt login.

“Our email system is very locked down,” said Robert Taylor, Dean of Students. “But if an internal user decides to post something against our usage policy, we can’t control it as easily.”

LGBTQ groups have existed at Dordt for the better part of the past decade, according to Robert Taylor. These groups are not sponsored by Dordt in any way and therefore are not allowed to use Dordt property to advertise, unless given specific permission by Student Services.

According to the Dordt handbook, Dordt prohibits “engaging in, promoting, or advocating homosexual relations.”

This does not mean, however, that Dordt is against these groups meeting.

“We want to interact with the leaders and members of these groups as much as we can,” Taylor said. “We want to keep an open dialogue with them.”

Aaron Baart has also been involved in assisting LGBTQ groups address any questions, thoughts, or concerns they may have.

LEAP has existed at Northwestern since 2007. It began as a Gay Straight Group, Northwestern’s version of a Gay Straight Alliance, but the name was changed to LEAP. According to representatives of the group, Dordt and Northwestern professors reached out to them in hopes of informing more LGBTQ students of a college group available. However, the use of mass email advertising is prohibited, and administration from Northwestern spoke to the group about their choice to do so.

LEAP has 10-20 attendees per meeting; including Dordt students. According to representatives, they have received four responses since the unauthorized email was sent.

“We didn’t receive emails from people who were frustrated about the group,” LEAP representatives said in an interview. “We received emails from people who were angry that we had their email addresses and broke their rules; they believed their information was safe.”

Dordt administration claims they have and do plan to work with any Dordt LGBTQ groups. They want to minimize any inappropriate actions from taking place and answer questions groups may have.

“The last thing we want to do is shut down one of these groups just because,” Taylor said. “We want to work with them to determine their goal. We then help them develop a mission statement and things usually go well. We have some non-negotiables and students of these groups have found these reasonable, so we haven’t had issues.”

Previous Dordt LGBTQ groups went under the name OASIS, but many of the leaders have graduated in recent years. Since then, OASIS hasn’t officially reconvened.

The email from LEAP coincided with the first ever OC Pride event. The event occurred from Oct. 20-22 and received the majority of their backlash through social media.

“It’s interesting to see the ‘ebb and flow’ of a community,” said Taylor. “It is an interesting marker of how communities go. I didn’t hear of any backlash at the event itself.”

LEAP assisted with the OC Pride rally by organizing the storytelling event that occurred on Saturday. The event included stories from people struggling with numerous mental ailments.

Dordt recognizes that LGBTQ groups do and will exist. They are in place to offer a safe and supportive group for any student who desires to have a dialogue or associate with members of the LGBTQ community. Just like any other group, however, there are rules and guidelines that they must follow as far as promotion and advertising.

For more questions about Dordt Administration’s thoughts on LGBTQ groups contact Robert Taylor at Rober.Taylor@dordt.edu. For more questions regarding LEAP, email nwcleap@gmail.com via a non-Dordt email address.

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