SEATTLE — It's finals week at Seattle Pacific University and in just three days, many will be off on summer break. However, there are still students holding a sit-in at the university's administrative building as they protest what they call discriminatory lifestyle expectations for faculty and staff.
Demaray Hall is now filled with students sleeping in the hallway.
"We were wanting to be in a space where we were visible to people in power," said Laur Lugos, who is the president of the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific.
Lugos said faculty, alumni and local businesses have all supported their effort.
"We're really the support from Seattle. We had someone drive up from Renton the other day," said Lugos.
SPU faculty recently voted on a resolution to allow people in same-sex marriages to be eligible for employment, as well as authorize Faculty Council to explore alternate affiliations.
"What students have come to understand as being the most important part of this protest is we have select members of our board of trustees who are not willing to change their mind about our discriminatory lifestyle expectations. So what we need is for them to resign," said Lugos.
SPU was founded by Free Methodist pioneers and is currently affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. The board cited the church as their reason for continuing a policy that prohibits employees from engaging in sexual activity with the same sex.
Here's a portion of their statement released on March 23, 2022.
“We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation,” said Board Chair Cedric Davis. “While this decision brings complex and heart-felt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as a core part of its historical identity as a Christian university.”
Over the past four decades, SPU has received over $320,000 in financial support.
"Students are also calling for a disaffiliation with the Free Methodist Church because if our affiliation is causing them to discriminate, then why are we affiliated," said Lugos.
As summer break is about to begin, Lugos said alumni have offered to join the sit-in, a sign there's no intent to stop.
"We'll be here, that's all I can say," said Lugos.
The students have raised more than $20,000 and are looking into potential legal action.