A window inside life at Augustana College

A Renewed Sense of Acceptance

During my years here I have witnessed the Augustana community show its true colors many times by accepting and respecting others. The Augustana community accepts the differing opinions of others in the classroom, recognizes the community aspects of being involved in organizations such as Greek life, and lets people be who they are as human beings – most recently by announcing the consent of same-gender weddings through the Lutheran Church at Augustana

The most recent thing that has given me much pride in Augustana is the email that President Bahls sent out to the students, faculty, and staff concerning same-gender weddings and the Lutheran Church at Augustana. Augustana College is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA as a whole has not reached a consensus on the topic of same-gender marriage, and has left it up to the individual congregations.

President Bahls explained in his email that, “The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), to which the college is related, permits same-gender weddings so long as the local congregation consents.  Because Augustana is a church-related institution and not a congregation, the Bishop of our Northern Illinois Synod of the ELCA determined that it was up to me as President of the College to provide or not provide consent.  I decided to consent.” (Note: This is something that President Bahls decided to do based on the recommendation of the campus chaplains, which was explained in the email, not just something he randomly decided to consent to on his own.)

This is something of which I am deeply proud. I am very happy that we are welcoming same-gender weddings on campus. This is not to say that before this decision that people of all sexual orientations were not welcomed on campus, because I don’t believe this to be the case. People wouldn’t associate themselves with Augie if they didn’t feel accepted in the first place. While not everyone agrees on homosexuality, the fact is that we need to build a culture of acceptance in a world that is sometimes thought of as having a culture of neglect and disrespect. We need to keep building on this idea of welcoming others, especially on a college campus – not just by respecting the opinions of others in a classroom, or feeling a sense of belonging because of the groups that we are a part of, but by being accepted for the core of who we are as human beings with different worldviews.

I hope that when I come back to Augustana forty to fifty years from now I will be able to see the large impact that this decision has made on the Augustana community. I believe that this was a crucial move by the college, we are headed in a positive direction, and we are giving people here a renewed sense of acceptance.

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