Lisa Howe is no longer women’s soccer coach at Belmont, but the fallout from her exit has prompted response from students, alumni and others that has not been favorable to the university.
A resolution is circulating for faculty signatures which, if it is approved by the Faculty Senate, would call on the administration to address issues in the university’s hiring policy with respect to sexual orientation. At least three protests being promoted by current students and alumni are planned, the first starting at noon Sunday.
The story of Howe’s leaving Belmont in the last week, posted on belmontvision.com Wednesday night, has drawn more than 5,300 hits. Her departure came just a few days after the six-year coach told team members that she and her same-sex partner were expecting a child in May.
“As a Belmont alum, this news doesn’t necessary shock, but definitely saddens me,” Christy Frink commented on belmontvision.com. “What a tragic step backwards at the expense of a person’s dignity and career.” Frink, an ’08 Belmont grad, is co-founder of the blog, nashvillest.com.
Comments that opposed Belmont’s decision were in the majority on numerous websites in addition to the Vision’s, but there were also comments that strongly supported the university administration.
“Belmont didn’t send the morality police into her home,” commenter Jimmy said. “She freely shared her decision to have a child with her same sex partner and she probably knew that something like this might happen. I applaud the president of Belmont for having the guts to make the right call.”
Bridge Builders—Belmont’s LGBT issues group that was denied official student group recognition—will hold a letter-writing event on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Beaman Student Life Center. Participants will write to Howe, national media members, and Belmont administration.
Belmont alum Guy Farmer created a Facebook event titled “Protest at High Noon.” The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday on Belmont Boulevard across from PM restaurant.
Another demonstration organized through Facebook —“Howe About Equality?”—is scheduled 1-4 p.m. Wednesday in front of the Massey Business Center on Wedgewood Avenue.
Dr. Nathan Griffith, professor of political science and at-large senator, is sponsor the resolution, titled “Proposed Faculty Senate Resolution: Practices in Hiring Members of the Faculty.” In it, the senate “respectfully requests a formal conversation with President Fisher and the Provost to clarify Belmont’s hiring policy in regard to sexual orientation.”
“It appears that a Belmont employee was pressured to resign her position because of her sexual orientation,” it reads.
“Several faculty have expressed concern over this case, and that it may imply either a deviation in practice from Belmont’s posted policies, or that those policies have an interpretation among members of the administration that is not known to the faculty, or that those policies have been revised without appropriate notice or involvement of the faculty or staff.”