More Universities Respond to RFRA

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Several additional universities around the state have released statements about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Ball State University, Purdue University, Valparaiso University and Trine University say they welcome all people and will not tolerate discrimination. The president of Governor Mike Pence's alma mater, Hanover College, also voiced her opposition to the law.

March 30, 2015

News Release

Members of the Ball State Community:

In the context of the current state and national conversation related to Indiana’s recent legislation, it is important to reaffirm that Ball State University has long been committed to a vibrant and diverse community and will not tolerate discrimination. The university expresses this in many ways, including our Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, which clarifies that Ball State will provide equal opportunity to facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression, physical or mental disability, national origin, ancestry, or age.

Paul W. Ferguson

President

Source: Ball State University

March 30, 2015

News Release

Trine University president Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., has issued a statement in response to the recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

President Brooks “Since the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday, March 26, the state of Indiana has been cast in a negative light because many view the law as discriminatory and unwelcoming.

“Trine University remains committed to cultivating diversity, inclusion and fairness. As a leading private institution of higher education, Trine fosters a culture of understanding, growth and inquiry; values the diverse qualities of its students, faculty and staff; promotes an inclusive environment free of discrimination and intolerance; and welcomes everyone.

“Trine will not allow discrimination and will continue to grant admission and provide educational opportunities without regard to race, age, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion or veteran status. The culture of Trine University dictates that these same standards of acceptance apply to all faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

“I encourage everyone to respect, value and support each other.”

Source: Trine University

March 30, 2015

News Release

VALPARAISO, Ind. – Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University, has released a statement concerning Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The statement reads:

Valparaiso University is constituted by people from different backgrounds, belief systems, and cultures joined together in the common pursuit of truth. As the University’s president, I am conscious of the importance of cultivating an environment in which all are free to engage in open dialogue and expression while treating one another with dignity and respect. These values run deeply throughout our community of students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

During the past week, many of these members have expressed concerns about the impact Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may have on the state of Indiana and on this University. In particular, concerns have been raised about the University’s position on non-discrimination. While this University does not routinely issue statements concerning legislative actions, when the University’s position on non-discrimination is called into question, as Valpo’s president, I am compelled to respond.

Valparaiso University stands with numerous Indiana organizations, businesses, and communities of learning in its longstanding commitment to renounce discrimination. Regardless of personal opinions about the RFRA, we must engage in open and respectful dialogue among people who may hold fundamentally opposing and irreconcilable beliefs. We must find a way to live and work alongside one another in community. We must love one another. As Paul writes in Galatians 5, “For the whole law is summed in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

Valparaiso University was one of the nation’s first coeducational institutions, in a time when women faced educational discrimination. Valpo welcomed African-Americans and participated actively in the civil rights movement. Valpo commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day when Indiana's legislature would not recognize this holiday. Valparaiso University’s Board-approved non-discrimination statement welcomes all people regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. As an independent Lutheran University, we will continue to welcome people of all faiths, cultures, and walks of life to join us in this community of dialogue across difference under our distinctive Lutheran model of education. And we will continue this commitment even when our elected leaders make decisions, like the RFRA, that operate in contradiction to our values. We will seek to model for our state and nation what it can be like to live in a community of love and mutual respect.

I call upon our elected leaders and our governor not only to amend this legislation, but also to use this opportunity to advocate for the values held by all those who strive to make Indiana a welcoming and inclusive state.

Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.

President

Valparaiso University

About Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,500 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 26 years. Valparaiso University offers more than 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering and Nursing and Health Professions. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a Law School, and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Studies. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness and dedication to serving others.

Source: Valparaiso University

March 30, 2015

News Release

Purdue works hard every day to be an open and welcoming institution, and we stand by our university-wide policy on nondiscrimination, which prohibits “discrimination against any member of the University community on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or status as a veteran.”

We will continue our proactive and persistent efforts to ensure that all members of the University community feel welcome and supported.

While a longstanding Board of Trustees policy precludes Purdue taking institutional positions on matters such as the current controversy, we wish to take this opportunity to affirm our unwavering commitment to our principles and our opposition to any governmental measure that would interfere with their practice on our campuses.

— Office of the President,

Purdue University

Source: Purdue University

March 30, 2015

An Open Letter on Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act From Hanover College President Sue DeWine:

I cannot know the motivations of the groups who supported, the legislators who passed, and the governor who recently signed into Indiana law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And I cannot be certain of all of the consequences, predicted or threatened, that are likely to follow

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