By Kyla Guilfoil, Managing Editor & Sports Editor
Over the last few weeks, students have noticed a number of LGBTQ+ resources removed from the mission statement page on the Manhattan College website causing concern to grow around campus. However, the college’s administration said this is not an indication of any negative changes regarding their support of LGBTQ+ students, staff or faculty.
Previously, under the page entitled “LGBTQ+ and the Catholic Church” on the mission statement section of the college’s website, there were over a dozen links and resources concerning positive relations between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church. A student noticed that these resources were removed from the page and alerted Tiffany French, a senior programmer analyst and co-chair of MC’s LGBTQ+ Task Force.
French worked alongside Rocco Marinaccio, co-chair to the LGBTQ+ Task Force and English professor, and said that they have had students come to them with concerns that LGBTQ+ support would diminish on campus following the change to the mission page. In particular, some students worried the Rainbow Jaspers, the college’s LGBTQ+ club, would be disbanded.
“We’ve had some questions from students who noticed this and asked if the removal of the LGBTQ+ resources from the mission page meant that there was some kind of larger movement to shut down the community on campus,” Marinaccio told The Quadrangle. “The Rainbow Jaspers have expressed on more than one occasion concerns that the club might be shut down. There’s no chance of that.”
French said that the pair immediately reached out administrators to try to figure out why the material was removed. Thankfully, French said, the resources will likely not be completely removed from the website.
“It seems like the college would like to put that content elsewhere,” French said. “So we are working on what the home for that [content] will be. This isn’t up to Rocco and I, we’re advocating a little bit to make sure that this doesn’t need a broader change in the mission or to whom it applies. We want to make sure that it’s clear that LGBTQ folks are welcomed and supported on campus.”
President Brother Daniel Gardener, FSC, told The Quad that the change to the section of the mission page was not an attack on the material but rather an effort to reorganize the website.
“The page and the contents on that page were all about Manhattan College’s pastoral outreach to members of the LGBTQ community,” Gardener said. “The mission page is not really about outreach. It’s about who we are. And so if this page was about outreach, then it needs to go under the section that provides outreach, which is campus ministry and social action.”
However, French stated that neither she nor Marinaccio were alerted by administration that any changes were going to be made to this section of the website. The lack of communication about the change caused anxiety among students and faculty who did not know if the initial change was due to ill intentions, Marinaccio noted.
“In the absence of any transparency and clear communication people can get anxious and concerns can arise,” Marinaccio said. “So we wanted to be sure we had the full story so as to be able to respond to those concerns.”
Gardener said the lack of communication was not intentional and that he apologizes for any miscommunication about the change.
“I think that we were attempting to meet one need and if we neglected to communicate with other groups on campus, I’m sorry about that,” Gardener said. “There was nothing deliberate about it, but I am sorry, if moving the webpage from one section to another was not widely communicated.”
Gardener said that MC is and will continue to be an inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Manhattan is a welcoming community that respects and loves everybody here,” Gardener said. “The value of Manhattan College is not really in conformity, it’s in diversity and the wonderful views and opinions and cultural aspects that every single individual brings to make the overall community so great and rich and diverse. And I don’t think that that’s changed ever.”
Marinaccio added that it is important for the college to have LGBTQ+ resources and information clear on the website, especially as the college is currently recruiting accepted students for admission in the fall.
“We think it’s important for the college in its sort of outward facing communications, to acknowledge that an inclusive attitude towards the LGBTQ community is part of its Lasallian Catholic mission,” Marinaccio said. “We need to send a message to students who may believe that because they are coming to a Catholic college, they will not be encountering the LGBTQ community or that there will inevitably be the most right-wing version of the Catholic Church’s characterization and relationship with the LGBTQ community here.”
Ultimately, French and Marinaccio are working to ensure resources are clear and available for students, staff and faculty at MC.
“Really, at the end of the day, it just always comes back to the students for me, where I just want something up there that gives the students what they need,” French said. “So, for me, I will not get wrapped up in the syntax of that, I really just want the resources there for students so that way that they know that they’re cared for they know that this is a place for them.”