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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."

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  1. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 16, 2013 1:27:48 AM


  2. 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.

    Posted by: NE1 | Jun 16, 2013 1:47:05 AM


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

    Posted by: jerrysf | Jun 16, 2013 2:06:10 AM


  4. Ah! Christian schools, contradicting the teachings of Christ - 'Do not judge others'.

    Posted by: Andrew | Jun 16, 2013 3:05:15 AM


  5. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 16, 2013 3:07:35 AM


  6. 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???

    Posted by: redball | Jun 16, 2013 3:34:20 AM


  7. 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).

    Posted by: sparks | Jun 16, 2013 4:32:34 AM


  8. 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.

    Posted by: Merv | Jun 16, 2013 4:52:35 AM


  9. 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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 16, 2013 8:36:25 AM


  10. 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

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


  11. 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.

    Posted by: Zeta | Jun 16, 2013 10:01:44 AM


  12. 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.

    Posted by: Zeta | Jun 16, 2013 10:02:29 AM


  13. 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.

    Posted by: Zeta | Jun 16, 2013 10:07:58 AM


  14. 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.)

    Posted by: Charlie | Jun 16, 2013 10:22:12 AM


  15. Somethings fishy...what did she expect??? it's a religious college...did she come out to avoid paying???

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 16, 2013 11:09:57 AM


  16. Go to a religious college..come out to avoid paying for your degree...sounds like a scam...

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 16, 2013 11:10:52 AM


  17. She scammed them...

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 16, 2013 11:14:55 AM


  18. 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....

    Posted by: Bernie | Jun 16, 2013 11:45:39 AM


  19. "Bible college" is a contradiction in terms. "Bible ignorance indoctrination" would be a lot more accurate.

    Posted by: jomicur | Jun 16, 2013 12:36:32 PM


  20. 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.

    Posted by: John Di Fatta | Jun 16, 2013 2:11:50 PM


  21. 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.

    Posted by: alex | Jun 16, 2013 8:35:33 PM


  22. A Bible College: there is a contradiction in terms.

    Posted by: andrew | Jun 16, 2013 10:29:38 PM


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

    Posted by: tabitha | Jul 6, 2013 11:20:30 AM


  24. 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.

    Posted by: Easy | Jul 14, 2013 10:01:22 AM


  25. 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.

    Posted by: Tara | Nov 3, 2013 7:58:46 PM


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