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Trinity Western ends mandatory 'Community Covenant'

Last Updated Aug 15, 2018 at 1:13 pm PST

(Source: Facebook: Trinity Western University)

Trinity Western will no longer require students abide by its Community Covenant

TWU's Community Covenant states that students abstain from sex outside of heterosexual marriage

LGBTQ law group calls the move isn't real change and queer students may still feel excluded

LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) – An evangelical Christian university in Langley is going stop demanding students and staff abide by its controversial community covenant that forbids sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

Trinity Western University‘s (TWU) board of governors met on Thursday to review its admissions policy and passed a motion that the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 academic year, according to a release by university president Robert Kuhn. The change will apply to all current and new staff and students.

“Let there be no confusion regarding the Board of Governors’ resolution; our Mission remains the same. We will remain a Biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent University, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles,” Kuhn wrote.

It follows a Supreme Court of Canada decision that law societies in B.C. and Ontario could refuse to accredit students from TWU’s proposed law school because the covenant is discriminatory. Legal societies in both provinces fought against accrediting anyone coming from Trinity Western.

Thursday’s change to the policy could pave the way for TWU’s law school, however its future remains unclear.

The university declined requests for an interview.

The entire motion read as follows:

“In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.”

LGBTQ law group calls policy change lip service

Removing the mandatory aspect of the covenant is welcome news for the LGBTQ law group OutLaws, a coalition of LGBTQ law students who were granted intervenor status in the Supreme Court case. However, it’s still not “real change” according to the group’s president Vanessa Singleton.

“TWU is trying to include LGBTQ people within their community,” she said. “They’re saying ‘okay we hear you from this recent decision. It’s not fair for us to impose our beliefs onto you,’ but at the same time the covenant is still there and so it says in a strange way ‘it’s not required, but at the same time we still don’t accept you.'”

She says the school may have felt pressure to change its policy, but has not changed the structure of its institution, and real progress is unlikely to happen unless the school and larger LGBTQ community work together.

“It would be the willingness on the university’s part to work with LGBTQ activists and to really open up the management of their school to a larger number of people,” she said. “I think the way to make any sort of meaningful change is to open up the decision making.”

Singleton hopes Thursday’s change will spark a conversation within the general population and lead to what she considers meaningful change.