WE ARE ALL HOUGHTON
OPEN LETTER




The following letter is in response to President Mullen’s last correspondence on December 7, 2020.

We implore Houghton College to make firm and swift policy changes that ensure a safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. The signatures of the many Houghton community members who stand together with Amy, Josh, and all LGBTQ+ persons demonstrate the Houghton community’s desire to grow together in support of each other. 
Please read and sign the following letter.



22 February, 2021

Dear Houghton Community:

The goal of We Are All Houghton was to give a voice to the LGBTQ+ community at our alma mater. After months of discourse with Houghton alumni, current students, faculty, staff, and President Mullen, and others on the topic of LGBTQ+ rights in the Houghton community, we believe we have helped to accomplish that first step.

We want to thank President Mullen for her commitment to “welcome open dialogue about these concerns,” and for “keeping them in the light within the life of our community.” We are energized by how many conversations are now openly happening on and off campus about LGBTQ+ rights, Houghton’s stance, and what the Christian response should be.

While we recognize that conversations are the impetus of progress, more must be done by the Houghton administration. We know now, more than ever, that Houghton must employ tangible changes in order to make LGBTQ+ students, alumni, and faculty and staff feel welcomed and safe, and to ensure their ability to thrive on Houghton’s campus and within the greater Houghton community.

As part of We Are All Houghton, we spent months collecting over 120 surveys from alumni, students, and faculty and staff members who identify as LGBTQ+. Some of these responses were used to create the work displayed in We Are All Houghton, and all of them were presented to President Mullen; Marc Smithers, Dean of Students; and Paul Young, Dean of Faculty, in November 2020.

Many of the stories from those surveys are heartbreaking—a sobering reminder of the pain that Houghton’s policies have caused. They confirm that many within the greater Houghton community do not feel welcome at Houghton. While Houghton may say, “We are all Houghton,” the administration's continued inaction sends a message that we are not.

Therefore, we challenge Houghton College to take the next step and make real change—policy change—that firmly acknowledges the challenges that LGBTQ+ students face on campus and provides a safe space for them to be who they are without judgement, shame, or controversy. We challenge the whole Houghton community to be more open, loving, and accepting of those who identify as LGBTQ+. We challenge Houghton to actively work to ensure that all can say with pride: We Are All Houghton.

We have identified the following ways for Houghton College to meet this challenge:
  1. Remove all text from the Student Guide that suppresses LGTBQ+ students and publicly denounce this and other past discriminatory practices.1
  2. Prioritize a LGBTQ+ affirming candidate in the upcoming College Presidential search.
  3. Create an official and funded school club for LGBTQ+ students on campus.
  4. Have a paid faculty/staff position dedicated to supervising this club and providing year-round support for any LGBTQ+ students in need, and allow current LGBTQ+ students to be involved in the selection of this club supervisor.
  5. Create a dedicated LGBTQ+ safe space on campus.
  6. During the annual I Am Houghton giving day, create a dedicated We Are All Houghton fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ campus space.

In examining the results of the survey, it is abundantly clear that Houghton has made many feel unwelcome and unaccepted through its oppression of the LGBTQ+ community both in the past and currently. These measures would act as a first step in gaining back the trust of ostracized Houghton alumni and as a means of ensuring that Houghton LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed and accepted.

One final note: We sincerely thank those of you who have joined us as allies in this movement. Thank you for showing us that Houghton’s projected stance of nonacceptance is not the stance of many of its community members. Thank you for standing beside us and all LGBTQ+ alumni, students, faculty, and staff. As artists, we accomplished what we sought out to do, but we don’t want this effort to end with us. We’re overwhelmed with your determination and while we will be tapering down We Are All Houghton, we encourage the Houghton community to continue to speak out for LGBTQ+ rights. We’ve learned that activism is hard but worthwhile work, and is only possible with the support of others. That’s how real change can be sustained.

Sincerely,

Amy Coon ’14 and Josh Duttweiler ’14, et al
This letter has now been signed by 191 Houghton community members. 
To add your name, sign here.


Sophia Ross, Alumni
Sheri Tuttle, Alumni
Kyle Trask-Kuchta, Spouse of Alimni
Abigail Hardman, Current Student
Holly Chaisson, Alumni
Jamiere Leslie, Alumni
Maggie Reynolds Buffington, Alumni
Elizabeth Jancewicz, Alumni
Eric Daryl Stevenson, Alumni
Sara Kensinger, Alumni
Anna Hills, Current Student
Lauren Bechtel, Alumni
Sarah Halvorson, Current Student
Linette Taylor, Current Student
Chantrelle Hayes, Alumni
Clara Elisabeth Sanders Marcus, Alumni
Jennifer Clark (Stumpfel), Alumni
Exley Bookamer, Alumni
Anna Zimmerman,Current Student
Stewart LaPan, Alumni
Matthew Dougherty, Alumni
Natalie Kyvik, Alumni
Sarah Kopa, Alumni
Claire Brower, Alumni
Jan Bowman, Alumni
Kendall Aldridge, Current Faculty/Staff
Callisto Rizzo, Parent of Current/Former Student
Michaela Graham, Current Student
Lauren Bull, Alumni
Carly Trask-Kuchta, Alumni
Erika Nash, Current Student
Luc Pereira, Current Student
Morgan Loghry, Alumni
Kelly Salico Nash, Alumni
Sarah Vande Brake, Alumni
Liam Gingrich, Current Student
Joe Miner, Alumni
Julie Waltz-Stalker, Alumni
Matthew Hart, Friend of Alumni
Emily Warner, Current Student
Laura Beth Johnson, Alumni
Abigail Harrelson, Alumni
Eunjin Kwak, Current Student
Matthew Stein, Alumni
Caitlin Aloi, Alumni
Caroline Zimmerman, Current Student
Dan Sendker, Alumni
Judith Ann Gale, Alumni
Abigail Caldwell, Spouse of alumni
Kacey Linamen, Alumni
Matthew Uttaro, Current Student
Michael Biele, Alumni
Nick Fredette, Alumni
Sarah Miller, Alumni
Genevieve Hartman, Alumni
Sarah Evans, Current Student
Michal Erdogan, Alumni
Journey Osburn, Alumni
Zach McKay, Current Student
Jacquelyn Wise, Alumni
Liv de Smidt (Dobmeier), Alumni
Benjamin Reber, Alumni
Brittany McLure, Alumni
Autumn Calkins-Condiff, Current Student
Kelsey Austin, Alumni
Samantha Juber, Alumni
Daniel Cook, Current Student
Elizabeth de Smidt, Sibling of Alumni
Brett Greene, Alumnus
Stephen Sorensen, Alumni
Anya Bonanno, Alumni
Jessica Rockwell Listowski, Alumni
Elizabeth Wideman, Alumni
Rev. Joey Armstrong (they/them), Alumni
Derek Chase, Alumni
Katherine Szwejbka, Alumni
Margaret Gorham, Alumni
Samuel Yuly, Alumni
Ingrid Knudsen, Current Student
Seth Pearson, Alumni
Charles Nash, Sibling of Current Student
Jessica Gottschall, Alumni
Michelle Cuddeback, Aunt of Current Student
Lydia Wilson, Alumni
Danielle Ferris, Current Student
Christopher L. Nash, Parent of Current/Former Student
Peter Ruhling, Friend of Student
Adeyinka Araromi, Alumni
Kim Brown, Alumni
Ky’Asia Blanchard, Alumni
Bailey Lawson Perkins, Past Student
Elise Pereira, Current Student
Katiana Zubryn, Current Student
Stefanie Swanson, Alumni
Nathaniel Bunch, Alumni
Landon Sheaffer, Alumni
Abby Aguirre, Current Student
Mary Rand, Friend of Current Student
Shannon I Hicks, Alumni
Natalie Moffitt, Alumni
Nicole Soggs, Alumni
Alanna Paris, Alumni
Jakob Knudsen, Alumni
Candace Wilkinson-Davis, Alumni
Ashlee Jones, Alumni
Alice Browning, Alumni
Daniel Catlin , Spouse of Alumni
Isaac Mann, Current Student
Sarah Madden, Alumni
Roxanne L. Kehr, Alumni
Orion Harrison, Alumni
Gabrielle Sheeley, Alumni
Eliana Craft, Current Student
Elizabeth Biondolillo, Alumni
Laurissa Widrick, Alumni
Bethany Cousins, Current Student
Miah Idzi, Current Student
Evan Yeong, Alumni
David Nisley, Friend of Alumni and Current Students
Lauren Kroening, Alumni
Kerri Widrick, Sibling of Alumni
Gordon Brown, Alumni
Emily Hayes, Friend of Alumni
Alex Glover, Alumni
Jon McKinley, Alumni
Susanna Petrolle, Alumni
Whitney Noftsier, Friend of Alumni
Andrew Bonanno, Alumni
Casidhe Heschke, Alumni
Cori French, Alumni
Annabel Cousins, Current Student
Bethany Cousins, Current Student
Shawn Livingston, Alumni
Brendon Seney, Current Student
Holly Jansson, Alumni
Edmund Andrew Nelson, Alumni
Meghan Rearick, Alumni
Madison Taylor Collins, Alumni
Jesse Woolsey, Alumni
Steff B., Supporter
Olivia Flint, Alumni
Rochelle (Cecil) Steketee, Alumni
Haylee Conrad, Current Student
Thomas Eckert, Alumni
Deborah Leigh Guilford Irizarry, Alumni
Suzanne Nussey, Alumni
Michael Guilford, Alumni
Amanda Stein, Alumni
Brian Stein, Alumni
Robert Morse, Alumni
Susie Skillman, Alumni
Doug Warren, Alumni
Victoria Kohler, Alumni
Zach Collins, Sibling of Alumni
Joie Keck, Alumni
Collin Zehr, Current Student
Amanda Irwin, Alumni
Alex Hood, Alumni
Thomas Eades, Alumni
Sarah Desai, Alumni
Zachary L Adams, Alumni
Veronica Caldwell, Alumni
Katherine Thompson, Alumni
Mitchell Edwards, Alumni
Catherine Bennett Nwosu, Alumni
Elizabeth Cruz (Clark), Alumni
Hannah Duncan, Current Student
Caleb Durant, Current Student
Luke Doty, Alumni
Erin Maggio, Current Student
Hendrik de Smidt, Alumni
Amy Nickelsen, Alumni
Julia Chamberlain, Alumni
Winona Wixson, Alumni
Katrina Heinen, Alumni
Rachel Longmire, Alumni
Maya McElfish, Alumni
Megan Platt, Alumni
Teresa Soley, Alumni
Dale Brook, Alumni
Sage Brook, Alumni
Joel Fierschnaller, Alumni
Tam Cristman, Alumni
Bianca Loss, Prospective Student
Jo Vance, Alumni
Brittany McLure, Alumni
Jolene Harrigan, Alumni
Em Libby, Alumni
Kevin Malone, Alumni




1For years Houghton College oppressed the LGBTQ+ community on its campus through the Community Covenant, which specifically prohibited “homosexual behavior.” Only this school year (2020-21) has the Community Covenant been replaced with the Student Guide, which now uses discriminatory instead of oppressive language. Page 18 reads: “We affirm that it is best for students not to enter same-sex dating relationships [...] If it becomes evident that a student is in a same-sex dating relationship, the students will have a conversation with the Dean of the Chapel [...] where every effort will be made to find a way forward [...]”







COPYRIGHT 2020 AMY COON + JOSHUA DUTTWEILER