Le Roy addresses student concerns at town hall

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Le Roy addresses student concerns at town hall

Photo by Jonathan Manni

Photo by Jonathan Manni

Photo by Jonathan Manni

Photo by Jonathan Manni

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At this semester’s town hall, President Le Roy addressed student concerns regarding Calvin’s master plan, smoking pits, hiring practices, zero-tolerance policy and LGBT housing.

One of the first issues Le Roy addressed was the removal of the smoker’s pit outside of Johnny’s this year.

“I think a lot of the concern about that particular location was that the secondhand smoke that came into the building was causing problems for the workers in the building,” said Le Roy.

When asked by sophomore Casey Kwant if this was the first move to a smoke-free campus, Le Roy responded that may be a possibility in the future.

“Many public universities have gone that route for health reasons, and that seems to be the trajectory. One thing I know we need to do is have a conversation about it. The fact remains that it’s a habit that is well known to not be good for health.”

Junior Jack Van Allsburg asked if Calvin’s requirement that faculty members join the CRC and live according to Christian Reformed guidelines negatively impacts diversity in hiring practices.

Le Roy responded that it is important for Calvin to hire faculty and staff that are in alignment with with the college’s mission. He also said the college will need a high degree of creativity to be faithful to this commitment and achieve set diversity goals.

“This set of requirements … limits the pool of people we recruit,” said Le Roy. “I’m now in conversation with the board to look at how it affects the college.”

Le Roy also said he hopes further conversation can center around bringing the commitments to diversity and religious traditions together.

“I don’t want our goals about diversity to be pitted against our theological commitments,” he said. “We need a high degree of creativity to be faithful to these commitment and achieve our diversity goals. I totally reject any attempts to pin us into the corner and say we aren’t committed to diversity or the CRC goals.”

Sophomore Joy Christopher raised the issue of Calvin’s zero-tolerance policy on marijuana.

“From your understanding, what does automatic suspension mean, and what does it mean for re-admission?” Christopher asked. “What does the phrase zero-tolerance mean? What is the rationale behind that? That is not the attitude a Christian college should have,” she continued.

Le Roy explained that the issue of redemption is an important aspect of the college’s policy. This means that students who have been suspended are permitted to return to campus when they have their addiction under control.

“I really do favor a redemptive approach,” said Le Roy. “I think it’s the right way to think about it. I think for many students, college is a time for experimentation, and students do make mistakes. The goal is not “banishment or punishment,” he said, “but restoration and redemption, the way Christ teaches us.”

“I am curious about other methods we might use,” Le Roy said, suggesting “required support groups and on-campus drug tests for those who want to fix their life here.” However, “if we are to do these, it would require more resources,” he said. “We need to ask the question of what is a reasonable cost.”

One of the final “big questions” came from first-year student Devin Auld, who asked whether transgender students at Calvin were housed by gender identity or biological sex.

Le Roy answered that the college is currently thinking about this, and that the discussion is not unique to Calvin.

“I feel a great deal of compassion for [transgender students],” said Le Roy. “We want to deal compassionately, but we need to be respectful of other students in that community. It’s a very difficult issue even in secular schools.”

“I don’t want anyone to interpret Calvin or the CRC’s stance on this as license to be hateful or mistreat students who are gay or transgender,” continued Le Roy. “It’s fundamentally against Christian teaching to hate others. I think it’s my responsibility as a leader to teach others about that, to promote love and grace.”

This event was the second town hall hosted by student senate, with the first town hall taking place last spring. Student body president Jona Eigege thinks the event accomplished its purpose.

“What we wanted to happen happened. People asked really good questions,” said Eigege. “We are looking for a way to make it more interactive for next semester. I don’t think just getting student senate’s opinion on issues around Calvin is enough. There are a lot of ways this could grow.”