“So much of our college experience has been engulfed by this issue,” graduating senior Laur Lugos, former SPU student government president, told The Seattle Times. “It just felt like this was the appropriate way to go out.”
In addition to a flag, Lugos, who helped organize the protest, also gave Menjares a handwritten note telling him to resign. According to The Seattle Times, in the letter, she also promised to do what she can to “disrupt and dismantle” ideologies and institutional powers that keep people out and away from “the love of Christ.” She added that through her university experience, she learned to care for the people Christians “lock out.”
According to the school’s website, SPU is a private Christian university dedicated to upholding “vital Christian identity and purpose.”
Menjares issued a statement to The Hill in response to the incident, noting that the graduation was a “wonderful day to celebrate.” He added: “Those who took the time to give me a flag showed me how they felt and I respect their view.”
While the video of the graduation, posted by ASSP, went viral on social media, this isn’t the first protest students at the school organized against the policy.
In late May, ASSP organized a sit-in at the campus administration building outside of Menjares’ office. While the protest began after the university voted to reaffirm the anti-LBGTQ policy, the protest is still ongoing, Fox 13 in Seattle reported.
“Many of us have been participating in a sit-in outside the president’s office for 3 weeks, and we didn’t want to shake the president’s hand because of the harm he has done to this campus alongside the other board of trustees members,” Chloe Guillot, a graduating student who helped organize protests for ASSP, told The Hill. “So instead of shaking his hand, we decided to give him a pride flag as a symbol that we aren’t going anywhere and we aren’t going to stop fighting until this policy is changed.“
In addition to protests, an adjunct professor has sued the university, alleging he was denied a promotion because he’s gay, according to The Seattle Times. Students have confirmed that hundreds of people have signed up for sit-in protest shifts and protests will continue until demands to end the policy are met.
Watch the graduation ceremony and students protest below: