More than 4,000 people, including hundreds of Pepperdine University students, alumni, and faculty, have joined a growing online petition campaign urging Pepperdine to stop denying recognition of a gay-straight alliance club on campus.
Alexander Cooper, a senior at Pepperdine, started the petition campaign on Change.org after Pepperdine refused to recognize Reach OUT, a campus group seeking to become an official gay-straight alliance.
“While at Pepperdine, most LGBT students feel isolated, unsupported, or even unwelcome at some point,” said Cooper, co-president of Reach OUT. “We started this petition to illustrate the broad support that we have from students, faculty, staff, and alumni who want to see true change at Pepperdine and who want a campus that prioritizes the safety and inclusion of all students.”
Pepperdine has refused to recognize a gay-straight alliance at least four times in the past decade, reportedly telling students that doing so would be in conflict with the school’s religious tenets and that a gay-straight alliance would be “against God’s will.”
Cooper says his organization is completely in line with Pepperdine’s mission statement and that he wants to create a safe space on campus where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and straight students can come together to talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“By recognizing Reach OUT, Pepperdine would be taking a bold stance against harassment and discrimination by facilitating a forum wherein negative stereotypes could be brought to light and LGBT issues discussed openly,” said Cooper. “Even more importantly, those students who still feel the pangs of isolation, who feel that they have nowhere to turn, could find in Reach OUT a community that understands and loves them unconditionally. What is more consistent with Pepperdine’s principles than that?”
Lindsay Jakows, who also serves as co-president of Reach OUT, says Pepperdine’s administration is out of touch with students and alums on this issue.
“We hope that raising more awareness on the issue will demonstrate to the administration that this issue is not going away,” said Jakows. “The comments being left by the Pepperdine community on the Change.org petition show that a vast majority of students and alums support recognizing a gay-straight alliance at Pepperdine.”
Of the 4,000 supporters of Cooper’s online petition, hundreds are current students, staff, faculty, and alums.
“Alexander and Lindsay’s campaign on Change.org shows the power that students can have when they organize online,” said Michael Jones, Senior Organizer with Change.org. “Using Change.org’s online platform, they’ve mobilized thousands of people – including hundreds of people in the Pepperdine community – to call for the recognition of a gay-straight alliance on campus. And they’re sending a loud message to Pepperdine administrators that students, faculty, staff, and alums are watching the administration’s actions.”
Live signature totals from Alexander Cooper’s campaign:
Journalists interested in contacting Pepperdine University should try:
Dean of Students, Pepperdine University
Contact information for petition signers in your area can be arranged upon request:
Senior Organizer, Change.org
For more information on Change.org, please visit:
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 500,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.