College Student Expelled For Being Gay, Told to Pay Back Scholarship

GraceA college student in Nebraska is fighting to keep thousands of dollars in scholarship funds after revelations about her past relationship with another woman resulted in her expulsion from Grace University, a small Bible college in Omaha.

Danielle Powell says that Grace University is demanding she cover over $6,000 in scholarships she received during her undergraduate career. After eight months of being denied a transcript transfer because of the outstanding balance, making it impossible to transfer to another university, Powell has started a Change.org petition to demand that Grace University forgive the debt and allow her to transfer.

"I don't think a lot of people are aware of the fact that you legally can be kicked out of a school in 2013 for being gay," Powell said. "Yes, this is a legal, financial petition, technically speaking, but there's a lot of morals and social justice tied into it that is getting I think some necessary exposure."

After word of Powell's previous relationship with another woman worked its way up to top administrators, the two women were brought to campus to attend a judiciary hearing in which they were questioned separately about their relationship and their remorse. Powell was initially suspended and told she could re-enroll for her final semester if she agreed to a restoration program involving mandatory church attendance, meetings with counselors and mentors, and keeping in touch with a dean. Powell began the program, but was notified later that the administration had decided on expulsion instead. 

Most Bible colleges, including Grace University, require students to sign a statement of faith and conduct when they enroll that usually includes rules against "sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts."

Comments

  1. Ryan says

    More examples of those loving, accepting Christians. I hope they all burn in their imaginary hell.

  2. KM says

    As much as I think it is wrong and should be illegal I think she is an idiot for going to bible college.

  3. Jude says

    Soooo…is jerking off OK at that school? What if you do enough yoga and can…you know…?

  4. redball says

    Y’all should know better than to blame the victim.

    This “university’s” policies are unconscionable. Especially in 2013. And, actually, I hope she sues as well.

  5. V-8 says

    I think it is appalling that an educational religious institution, who is probably tax-exempt, can still, in 2013, openly discriminate on anything…

    as for someone gay going to a religious school… let’s think about when we went to college… I dated girls in college, and it wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized it was not for me… also, I ended up going to a school my parents decided they were cool with me going (it was a secular school, thank god), and besides scholarship, they paid for it… sometimes young people go to schools because it is the only option… and people change, a lot, in college….. so I do not blame her….

  6. Geoff says

    I’ve always thought the bible the most evil compendium ever cobbled together. Why would anyone attend such a school in the first place? Christ-inanity is a choice. Homosexuality is not!

  7. Gay Is As Gay Does says

    What would you expect from Graceless University, a small-minded Bible college in Omaha? I’m guessing they wouldn’t react very well if Jesus and His Apostles applied en masse for admission. “Something’s amiss here! We better interrogate them. They spend too much time together! And, all that snickering behind our backs! Just doesn’t look right.”

  8. Tom says

    …I honestly dont know what she expected from a school that calls itself Grace University. She knowingly signed that statement of faith. I don’t even feel bad for her. More like angry that anyone could actually be so stupid to go to an institution that obviously doesn’t want gay people and then turn this into a “oh poor me. woe is me. gay people got it so hard”

  9. Michael says

    This reminds me of gay Republicans:

    “What??? Wait!!!! You don’t mean to tell me if I belong to a organization that hates me they will crucify me the first chance they get?”

    Yes, what happened to her is wrong but if you lay with a rabid dog you’re bound to get bitten.

  10. kpo5 says

    The victim hate here is worse than the Christians hating on us.

    And can Grace legally make her pay the money back if there is no mention of scholarship repayment in the contract/statement of faith she signed? Isn’t that a sunk cost given this is a private university?

  11. EnRanc says

    Why would a bible college welcome gay students? She should have known better than to go there OR at the very least kept the lesbian thing under wraps until after she graduated. She did this to herself. Private institutions can discriminate all they want.

  12. Rexford says

    While I agree that she was pretty stupid to attend a bible college where she willingly signed a contract regarding student behavior, I don’t think she should have to pay the $6,000 back because subsequently the college entered into another agreement with her (oral contract?) that she would enter “the restoration program.” She was apparently peforming to the terms of this second agreement, which they’ve now broken.

  13. Lymis says

    This will be interesting to watch play out. I can see a court upholding her expulsion, but also see the same court not upholding the financial repayment nor the delay in letting her transfer.

    It completely sucks, but if they want to sever her scholarship and kick her out, as a private university, they probably can. Demanding she pay back the scholarship is probably out of line, and denying her the transcript of the coursework she successfully completed is likely completely unforgivable – or it ought to be. Unless any of the classes were lab courses in heterosexuality, she completed the course work and they can’t deny it.

  14. Stephen says

    I have a niece that we have long assumed was gay. However, she was raised in a very conservative Christian church. Her parents are very religious, yet are very embracing of my gay family. She attended a Bible college and is now doing missionary work in Africa. I’m not sure if she’s come to terms with her sexuality, or is maybe just a “tomboy”, or just is doing what she thinks her parents want – who by the way would embrace her sexuality no matter what – it’s just their church might not.
    Can all of us say we never hid our sexuality when we were in college? Whether you believe the Bible or practice Christianity, there are plenty of gay men and women that do. Nevertheless, Grace College doesn’t read the same scripture that many of their students do.

  15. Bill says

    @Tom @jason: According the article Towleroad linked to, “(James also says in the letter that Grace will provide transcripts “and any other assistance” needed to transfer to another institution.)” She deserves sympathy and quite possibly compensation because that university apparently reneged on what had been promised.

    When a business pulls a stunt like that, it is called “bait and switch” with either civil or criminal penalties, as appropriate.

    I hope she sues that “university” for bait and switch, asking damages due to lost income resulting from a delayed education. It has nothing to do with whether she should be kicked out for having violated some silly rules. It is rather that by delaying her transfer, she has been directly harmed financially.

  16. Bill says

    @Tom @jason: One other thing I should have added: all of us should be angry, whether gay or straight, gay friendly or homophobic. The “university” has acted in such a way as to reduce her lifelong income. That means she’ll pay less in taxes. Guess who makes up the difference? Everyone in increased tax rates or in the financial consequences of higher deficits.

  17. nick name says

    Whats with all this blaming the victim? For all you know maybe she considered herself straight until when she met her girlfriend

  18. MWOTH says

    Let this be a lesson for all:
    If you’re gay, don’t go to a religious college – unless you’re willing to be quiet about it. If you’re gay and already enrolled at a religious college, either transfer or keep your homosexuality to yourself. The schools aren’t going to change, nor should they even have to. Going there was YOUR choice so live with their rules.

  19. Robert Rhea says

    I am going to be in the minority here:

    She should be expelled and she should be required to pay back the Scholarship. I don’t believe the school is in the wrong.

    She chose to go to the school. She chose to sign the pledge. She chose to break it while attending the school. If this were a public university and a non-religous scholarship it would be a different story.

    If we want the jesus-crispies to not force themselves on us, they have the same right to not have to us to force ourselves on them. Respect is a two way street.

  20. Kevin LS says

    I wouldn’t have gone there in the 1st place, WTH.

    But she should get her [expletive] money or credits back…

  21. Bill says

    @Robert Rhea: I disagree assuming the news account is correct. She apparently received a letter stating that she would be helped with a transfer. Afterwards, and after doing anything on the basis of that letter, the university reneged.

    They can ask her for a refund, but it is simply wrong for them to withhold transcripts or other things that would allow her to transfer because they had promised to help with that. Promising that (in writing, no less) means that they should not use the tactic of withholding a transcript as a means of getting her to comply with their request for a refund.

    The problem I have with your opinion is that you are putting the onus of obeying some pledge on her, but placing no onus on the university to live up to what it promised her when it kicked her out. If she left quietly on the basis of a promise of transcripts, etc., to allow her to transfer, then the university appears to be engaged in a bait and switch tactic, which is generally a violation of civil law.

  22. NE1 says

    I’ve never heard of paying back a scholarship. Not saying it’s not done, but this is the first I’ve heard of it.

  23. jerrysf says

    This is as good a time as any for her to learn some personal responsibility. No one forced her to sign the contract.

  24. Andrew says

    Ah! Christian schools, contradicting the teachings of Christ – ‘Do not judge others’.

  25. Bill says

    @jerrysf: maybe this educational institution should provide her with a good example by releasing transcripts and whatever else it promised her in the letter she received indicating that she was to be expelled. That letter apparently said nothing about repaying a loan.

    Some of us are kind of tired of there being one standard of conduct for individuals and a lower one for organizations, which get all the rights of individuals if they incorporate.

  26. redball says

    i’m no legal expert but is *any* US university legally allowed to do this to blacks or jews or (straight) females?

    if not, then this is unconscionable and she should sue.

    enough is enough. why are we (including way too many posters on this thread) blithely accepting second-class citizenship???

  27. says

    Bigotry is religious tradition which I don’t suspect will be going anywhere soon, so no, I’m NOT surprised that in 2013 we’re still seeing discrimination against gays in a bible college.

    What DOES surprise me is that in 2013 gay people have many options to pursue an education where strict anti-discrimination policies are in place — and yet they choose to subject themselves to a school where discrimination IS the policy.

    IMO, the only good reason to attend a bible collect is if you’re aiming for a career in the clergy or an evangelical ministry. I honestly can’t imagine hiring say, a systems analyst, from Grace Bible College over one from (insert ANY state university name here).

  28. Merv says

    When are so-called gay Christians going to get the message? Real Christians hate gay people. Is it really that hard to understand? Just forget about going to their crappy Bible colleges. They don’t want you.

  29. ratbastard says

    It’ a fundamentalist Christ school. What exactly did this nice, young lady expect to happen? Why would she choose to attend such a school? It makes no sense. How many colleges are there in the U.S.? A LOT.

  30. darren says

    I’m often mystified by some peoples comments and wonder..”Do you ask these questions outloud before you type and press send..or do you immediately type as its coming into your head.”
    Why would she go to a bible school..that doesnt beleive in who she is..isnt that like questioning “Why live in the USA..a country that doesnt believe in who you are..or who you marry or fighting for your country..or on and on..
    She very likely wanted a post secondary education..and this school was maybe closer to her family..or had the cirriculumshe was looking for ..or most importantly as is the case with so many students..the price..they offered her a scholarship.
    Why anyone person does anything is not for anyone.other than that individual to question

  31. Zeta says

    I would have had sympathy, except that SHE chose that college, and SHE signed the contract. A full ride is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s idiocy to then act like a shattered butterfly when you’re called on it.

    Did she do anything at that college to make life better for other GLBTQ? Or was she willing to go to a school like that as long as her bills were paid.

    Simple whoredom. I can’t find any sympathy for her getting angry after the fact, when she was happy to go along if it meant free money.

  32. Zeta says

    I am going to be in the minority here:

    She should be expelled and she should be required to pay back the Scholarship. I don’t believe the school is in the wrong.

    She chose to go to the school. She chose to sign the pledge. She chose to break it while attending the school. If this were a public university and a non-religous scholarship it would be a different story.

    If we want the jesus-crispies to not force themselves on us, they have the same right to not have to us to force ourselves on them. Respect is a two way street.

    Posted by: Robert Rhea | Jun 16, 2013 12:22:02 AM

    And I will join you in that minority, Robert, for all the reasons you listed.

  33. Zeta says

    Why anyone person does anything is not for anyone.other than that individual to question

    Posted by: darren | Jun 16, 2013 9:30:52 AM

    At the same time, Darren, this is not a world without consequences. If you make the choice to do something, you also make the choice to bear the consequences — good or bad — for that choice.

    Life is full of risks. It is a sign of societal decay to let one’s citizens believe that they should never have to risk the negative consequences which result of their own choices.

  34. Charlie says

    I suggest people read the linked article. The Universities position is that 60% of the coursework needs to be completed or the school needs to return federal scholarship dollars.

    This is an example of rights in conflict. The question is whether religious institutions need to abandon the doctrine to comply with the non-discrimination laws. And in this instance there likely is no law they are disobeying. I am not quite sure if the student law being considered at the federal level would forbid discrimination by religious institutions. If it does it probably won’t be adopted for a long, long time. (But then, I didn’t expect to see marriage equality in my lifetime. I want wrong.)

  35. Bernie says

    aw, and here I thought these Christian folks would act more Christian…..silly, silly me……I bet there is something in the bible that says one can’t ask for their money back….

  36. jomicur says

    “Bible college” is a contradiction in terms. “Bible ignorance indoctrination” would be a lot more accurate.

  37. John Di Fatta says

    Why would you go to a school that hates what you are, in the first place? How awful it must have been to go to a school where you could not be yourself.I really do not feel sorry for this women, she knew what she was getting into and she knew the consequences. You have to remember that this still is a free country and private business’ can make the rules it wants. If you don’t like it don’t go there and they will soon get the messege. Like I wish people would do at the corrupt Walmart.

  38. alex says

    I wonder how active she’s been in finding a new college. I went to a very (socially) liberal school for my undergrad. Given that this is a civil rights case, I’m certain they would at least consider accepting an unofficial transcript.

  39. tabitha says

    Just as you homosexuals are free to do what you want, so are the Christians free to do what they want. end of story

  40. Easy says

    What isn’t there to get about attending a private Bible college which offers federal aid to students. Student Aid does not relieve a person of responsibility and accountability. You and I may not agree with the university’s student enrollment policies and handbook; but it does not take a rock scientist to understand them. Since this woman accepted the Aid and scholarship knowing she was gay, she has the burden of repaying the Aid because she misrepresented herself and falsely signed legal binding documents. I would argue that this School has been transparent about its beliefs, but she hasn’t been open about hers. Obviously, she should have never step on the campus in the first place given her sexual orientation.

  41. Tara says

    Are those of you saying she should never have gone to the college in the first place if she’s gay really THAT ignorant, or did you just skim the article and not actually read it word for word?

    She didn’t KNOW she was attracted to women when she began attending the college. If she had she probably WOULD have chosen to go somewhere else!

    You cannot blame someone for their developing identity; that is what that age is all about, people discovering who they are. It is not her fault that who she is happens to involve attraction to women.

    However, it IS the college’s fault that they chose to renege on the arrangement they originally agreed with her, that she could have her transcript and transfer out quietly. Demanding she repay $6000 before she can have her transcript is outright blackmail.

    And apart from anything else, this is 2013. Even private religious colleges should not still be allowed to discriminate in such a fashion. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech.