Upstate university responds to students’ protest over termination of professor

Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 11:00 AM EDT
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ANDERSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A group of students, alumni and community allies from Anderson Univerity are protesting the school’s recent decision to not renew a professor’s contract.

The group alleged that the professor’s contract was not renewed due to her sexual orientation and gender identity. They also claimed that the school used their Title IX religious exemption to justify the decision.

“We as queer students and alumni are fed up with Anderson University’s treatment of us. The theatre department specifically has been built up off of the backs of the LGBTQ+ students for years now, and to terminate a professor for their queerness is a slap in the face to all queer students and alumni, said 2020 graduate Savvy Thompson. These students deserve to have safe spaces where members of their community aren’t actively being oppressed.”

The group outlined their requests for the university in a letter sent to the school.

Letter to Anderson University
Letter to Anderson University(Cary Doyle)

In response to the protest, Anderson University released the following statement on the situation.

“Anderson University is a private Christian university which upholds the South Carolina Baptist traditional view of sexuality and marriage as set forth in Scripture. As a condition of employment, and as outlined in our employee handbook, “employees are to be actively mindful and respectful of its denominational relationship and the ways in which their behavior may impact this relationship. In doing so, faculty members shall be respectful of and not undermine the University’s Statement of Faith.” Therefore, faculty members unable or unwilling to adhere to this policy and our Statement of Faith are not scheduled to teach. Anderson University’s ability to be a distinctive, faith-based institution is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. If Christian universities were not allowed to uphold deeply held religious beliefs in setting expectations about conduct, private faith-based universities would be indistinguishable from public universities. We exist to give faculty, staff and students a choice.

We are aware of a planned protest. Anderson University has no role in organizing it and has no specifics to share. What I can tell you is that Anderson University endeavors to be a welcoming, hospitable institution. We have no problem with individuals voicing their opinions, provided they are doing so in a manner that is peaceful and respectful to Anderson University. The University has been working on a more expansive statement regarding these issues and plans on releasing it early next week.”