Grace University has decided to add insult to injury after kicking Danielle Powell out from their university because she is lesbian. Powell was nearing completion of her bachelor’s degree in 2012 when the university found out about her same-sex relationship with another student at Grace University, a religious university in Omaha, Nebraska, and expelled them both.
Powell now wants to start over, and in order to do that, she needs to transfer her credits to another college. Grace University will only do that if Powell agrees to pay $6,300. While most universities will require a fee to transfer credits, it is usually something like $25 (or was when I went through my bachelor’s).
When Powell and her then-girlfriend first met, neither identified as lesbian. A spiritual adviser on campus ratted her out and she was brought before the judiciary board and expelled. Powell told the Huffington Post that “At that time, my family had no idea, so I had to come out to my family sooner than I would’ve wanted.”
Powell notes that the board asked her questions including why she did what she did and if she was remorseful. She says that they treated her “like a sexual predator.” She was then suspended, then expelled, and then told she needed to pay for the semester she was expelled during.
Michael James, the executive vice president of the university, cannot, by law, discuss the specific case, but noted that the student handbook states that “Any student involved in sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts, is at minimum placed on University probation and may be subject to a Judiciary Hearing.”
Powell agreed to the terms of a restoration program that the university insisted she go through including counseling and regular church attendance. She did this in order to not lose any of the work she had done in the bachelor’s program. She was also not allowed to stay overnight in the dorms and had to live off campus. She was, though, ultimately expelled from the institution.
Powell noted that”They were doing a witch hunt calling around to see if I was in a same-sex relationship.” In a letter sent to her by James, Powell was told she was being deceitful, and that the university felt it would be unethical for them to readmit her because they claimed it “would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral.”
The university has denied withholding Powell’s transcript, but so far they have only offered her a student copy of the transcripts, which cannot be used to transfer the credits.
Powell’s wife, Michelle Rogers, has started a petition to try and get the university to forgive the debt. The two married in Iowa. Powell proposed to Rogers at a Macklemore concert, and the proposal apparently went viral. Rogers decided that “I feel that it’s important that kind of discrimination should not happen towards an individual.” She also wants to “shed light on Grace University’s discriminatory disciplinary system.”
Powell told the HuffPo that she would be the first to get a degree in her family and that “College was always kind of one of those things I never thought was an option for me because of my financial background. It’s something I’ve invested too much in to not finish.”
Let us hope that, if the University will not forgive the debt, that someone with the money will help her out, or that an LGBT friendly college will accept her student copy of her transcript.
And as a personal aside, Ms Powell, I know how it feels. I abandoned my first Master’s Degree because of prejudice at my last college. My hope is that you find a nice college to attend where you can get your degree.