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Letter from Student Development Dean Sherwood Clarifies University Position on GLC Ball

(12-7-2005)The following is an open letter from Dean for Student Development Robert Sherwood:

As the Dean for Student Development, I fully understand and appreciate that the issues surrounding the Gay Leadership Council Ball have been very painful for the students involved (both gay and straight). There is probably no other single issue in society today that has so divided our communities and families than the issue of homosexuality and the "gay life style." Boston College is no exception.

Every year the Office of the Dean for Student Development has made it clear to the student leadership within the gay community of Boston College that it would not be acceptable to sponsor a "gay dance" at BC because it would be perceived as condoning the "gay lifestyle" which would not be consistent with our mission and heritage as a Catholic university. Having said that, EVERY dance held at BC is open to ALL students; and some gay students, individually and as couples, attend almost every such social event and have been welcome to do so.

This year, however, the student leaders of the GLC decided to sponsor a "GLC Diversity Ball: A Night in 'Gay Paris.'" A portion of the proceeds from the Ball would be donated to an AIDS charity, something that various BC student organizations have done virtually every year, for many years, with the University's full endorsement.

The initial discussion about the logistics of this event started on October 21st, with several subsequent conversations with me, the assistant dean and the vice president of student affairs. It was clear that the students were hoping to get other student organizations to co-sponsor the event. At the same time, however, it was also clear that they wanted the main sponsor of the event to be the Gay Leadership Council. In addition, a major concern was that a student leader rather graphically described the type of sexually explicit behavior that could be expected at the event.

Since this event at BC had not yet been formally approved, on November 22nd we told the GLC officers that we could not support this particular event as it was structured. We have also told them that we would work with them to plan another event at the start of the spring semester, so long as the event had authentic co-sponsorship by many student organizations (GLC could certainly be one of the sponsors), and that the event did not have a "gay theme" to it or language in the advertisement which suggested that it is primarily being sponsored by the GLC for the gay community.

Boston College students (and their families) have chosen to attend a Catholic and Jesuit university. We all need to continue to be faithful to this Catholic value system; while also being caring, supportive and respectful of our students, faculty and staff. Our goal is to do both. And I remain confident that, through continued dialog with our student leaders, we can be successful in hosting a dance to benefit AIDS causes that will be celebrated by all members of the Boston College community.

Bob Sherwood
Dean for Student Development


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