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On third try, Bridge Builders gets official status

Belmont Bridge Builders was approved Friday afternoon as an official student organization after being denied affiliation two times in the past year.

The Office of Student Affairs says the group will be affiliated with University Ministries because it will deal with the relationship between homosexuality and the Christian faith.

Bridge Builders is a group whose intended mission is to examine the intersection of Christian faith and LGBT related issues through group discussion.

The Tennessean published a joint statement from Belmont Provost Thomas Burns and Bridge Builders president Robbie Maris:

“This outcome represents many months of conversation, collaboration and cooperation between Belmont students, faculty and staff,” the statement read.

“We are pleased that our ongoing campus dialog about Christian faith and human sexuality has helped us to establish Bridge Builders as an official student organization at Belmont University.”

The statement continued: “What we have accomplished working together represents our community well and is better than what we ever could have accomplished working separately. Our commitment to work together in developing this meaningful and important group on our campus reflects our community’s spirit of collaboration and dialog as we strengthen our diverse Christian community of learning and service through disciplined intelligence and compassion.”

A source within the Office of Student Affairs stressed that this decision wasn’t related to the recent adoption of a nondiscrimination statement by the university that listed sexual orientation as protected class. Instead, says the source, the decision came about because the group simply submitted a better petition to become a student organization.

The nondiscrimination policy was expanded in January after Belmont’s Board of Trustees voted to add the words “sexual orientation” to the school’s current policy.

Belmont’s policies gained national media attention in December, when head women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe abruptly exited the university. Players told the media she was fired after revealing to the team that she was a lesbian and her same-sex partner was pregnant.

Fisher made a statement on Dec. 8 and repeatedly said that “sexual orientation has not been considered when making hiring, promotion, or dismissal decisions at Belmont.”

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