Eighteen senators voted in favor of the bill, two abstained and one senator was opposed.
Despite requests from the Campus Chronicle, Lisa Bissell Paulson, vice president of student life, did not provide a full statement by press time.
Student Association President Samantha Angeles noted that she and McEvers were “advised before the bill went on the table that this could be the administration’s reaction” and that the film had also been rejected in fall quarter, setting precedence.
“Nevertheless, it was important for the senate to voice students’ opinions to ensure that student voices are not lost,” Angeles added. “Perhaps administration’s view will change, perhaps not. But we as students can continue to do our part.”
Miriam Petersen, senator for Winning Hall, said she believed the bill would be “eye-opening” for students and urged open discussion of the subject.
“It is rather frustrating,” Petersen said, noting she was aware the bill was likely to be rejected and why. “It feels like no progress was made. But the truth of the matter is that the rejection of the bill is actually sparking interest amongst the student body about the subject at hand. So despite this obstacle, I’m going to keep optimistic.”
For some senators, the vote was about providing a quality educational experience, not social issues. Winning Hall Senator Melissa Khoury believes “marriage is between a man and woman,” but supported the bill saying it was an “educational video at an educational institution.”
“I literally can’t believe they said no,” she said. “[Administrators are]…saying no to giving students the option of watching this at what is most importantly an educational institution.”
Senior Jonathan Cook, who was voted senator of the year last year and sponsored bills related to LGBT issues, took to Twitter to express his disappointment. “[‘Seventh-Gay Adventists’] is an educational film and by censoring it, [Pacific Union College] is violating its mission and ignoring the vast majority of its constituents,” he wrote.
Cook called the decision a “tragedy,” stating “censorship like this should not exist in higher education.”
Autumn Lynn Duarte, who represents off-campus students, was the lone vote opposed. In a statement to the Campus Chronicle, she explained that she felt a screening would be inconsistent with the values of the school.
Duarte said all campus events should reflect Adventist Church beliefs. “We must always be conscious of the difference between accepting an individual and accepting a lifestyle.” Having seen the film, she also said she felt that “it heavily relied on emotional tactics to reach viewers.”
The film at the center of the controversy, “Seventh- Gay Adventists,” was created by alums and former faculty Steven Eyer and Daneen Akers. The film follows the lives of three openly gay Adventist Christians in committed relationships as it explores the intersection of faith and the realities of LGBT sexual identity. The film has been used as part of the curriculum by professors in multiple classes at PUC.
Screenings of the film have been held in locations across the country, including the La Sierra University Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
Regardless of the outcome, senators said they were pleased to perform their role of representing students.
“I’m proud of the senate for representing the voice of the students,” said Senate President Danielle Hagood. She added that, “the best we can do is continually bring the issues which matter to students before administration and ask for change.”