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Students establish ‘unified front’

About 80 Belmont students and faculty members gathered in a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon to help form a “unified front” on their stance toward the university’s policies regarding sexual orientation.

The discussion was primarily led by current leaders of Bridge Builders—an unofficial LGBT issues group on Belmont’s campus. While they were meeting, protesters were still on Wedgewood Avenue supporting former soccer coach Lisa Howe, who exited the university last week after she revealed that she is gay.

“We just wanted to combine all of our efforts and passions so that individuals didn’t get swept up without any support,” senior Becca Stone said. “Being a unified front allows us to have more strength and a little more passion behind what we’re doing because it’s not an individual effort.”

Stone wouldn’t address any specific issues that were brought up in the meeting, but did talk about three goals that were discussed.

  1. The group called for an open conversation with administration over concerns regarding LGBT issues on campus. “(We would like) for there to be less ambiguity in some matters,” Stone said.

  2. Students are also asking for “some better non-discriminatory policies at Belmont,” and for those to be “stated explicitly so that students and faculty know that they are safe and know they can be accepted into this community,” according to Stone.

  3. She also talked about wide-reaching goals that included change in Tennessee’s policies and the Human Rights Act—both of which weren’t of immediate concern. “Right now, I think the strengths of the community and the needs of the community are something we are focusing on,” Stone said.

The school has been under increased media scrutiny since Friday—and Stone said some outlets are presenting the situation in a false, negative light.

“It sounds very militant and kind of combative and negative and I think we want to express more of our concern for the community and for our desire for Belmont to be represented in a positive light,” Stone said.

“A lot of us do have concerns with how the Belmont administration is handling the situation, but we think of Belmont in a very fond light. We love Belmont.”

Local and national media were turned away from the meeting which was held in Massey. Organizers wanted the meeting, which comes only a few days before students leave for the holiday break, to be  just for students and faculty to openly share ideas.

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