Baylor University’s Student Senate is pushing to revise a portion of the school’s sexual misconduct policy referencing gay sexual relationships.
Though the group has approved the change, it still would have to be approved by the university’s board of regents.
The policy currently lists “homosexual acts” among the sexually related conduct that could prompt disciplinary action, along with fornication and sexual abuse, assault and harassment.
But the senate last week voted to recommend dropping the “homosexual acts” reference and instead substitute the phrase “nonmarital consensual deviate sexual intercourse.”
But the recommendation does not alter the premise of the sexual misconduct policy, which states that sexuality is to be exercised “through heterosexual relationships within marriage.”
“Really, I guess the end game is just modifying the sexual misconduct policy in that it will not intentionally or unintentionally discriminate on the grounds of orientation, specifically sexual orientation,” said Dominic Edwards, president of the Student Senate.
The resolution now will go to Student Body President Wesley Hodges, who may approve it as is, veto it completely or make amendments.
If it’s approved, or if the senate overrides any veto with a two-thirds majority vote, Edwards said the recommendation would be sent to the university’s administration, which then may send it through a series of committee reviews before it is sent to the regents for approval.
Edwards said the goal isn’t necessarily to lift the university’s ban on same-sex relationships, but to foster equal enforcement of the policy.
“I don’t know that that is the conversation that this bill is really presenting, and it’s more about the policy, not about the student culture,” Edwards said.
The resolution was written and introduced by Baylor senior Trenton Garza, a member of the Student Senate. Garza in an email declined an interview with Tribune-Herald, citing an internal approval process set by senate bylaws. But in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Garza said that by replacing “homosexual acts” with “deviate sexual intercourse,” there would be less stigma facing gay people on campus.
Further, he said, there would be more fairness in that straight couples could be punished for conduct that would place gay couples in violation of the code.
“We want to apply our policies equally,” he told Inside Higher Ed.
He said “yes” when asked if the proposed policy still would bar any sexual act between two people of the same sex.
Edwards would not disclose how many of the 50 senate members voted for the resolution, saying that it only requires a simply majority for passage.
Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said the university would not comment on the proposed recommendations because it is still going through the approval process, but she said Baylor “appreciate(s) that the Student Senate is discussing issues that it considers important and that are important to the student body.”
“We respect their process,” she said.
Fogleman said she is not aware of any previous student government recommendations to modify the sexual misconduct policy.