"I was the very model of a Samfordian and my place in Samford was never questioned"

Dear President Westmoreland:

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in your decision in regards to the Samford Together student organization.

As a member of the Samford University Class of 1995, I have been involved with the institution I love for two-thirds of my life. While at Samford, I attended a London semester, sang in Acapella Choir, and married a Samford woman in a ceremony officiated by a Samford religion professor. I returned to Samford for my first professional position as a librarian and taught in the former School of Music. As a white, baptist, cisgender male, I was the very model of a Samfordian and my place in Samford was never questioned. Indeed, I never had a reason to question my own sexual identity or orientation. Only when I came out of the fog of homogeneity did I realize that many of my Samford undergraduate friends and professional colleagues spent years hiding their own pain and suppressing questions about their identities for fear of being shunned.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"I do not understand why LGBTQ students continue to be treated differently"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

Like many Samford alumni, I found myself paying rather close attention to the events that unfolded this summer concerning my alma mater, the group Samford Together, and the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Instead of merely being a passive observer, however, I wanted to take a moment to express to you some of the concerns that these events have generated for me.

Since graduating in 2012, I have been a member of the group SAFE Samford, an organization that promotes LGBTQ inclusion and equality at Samford. It has long been my hope that Samford can be a place of learning, community, and growth for all, regardless of their sexual orientation. As such, I was delighted to hear of the faculty’s approval of the student group Samford Together – albeit somewhat dismayed that they felt the only chance at becoming a true student organization was to present themselves in such a passive and milquetoast manner.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"I want to make sure current students have more resources than we had"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

My name is Annie Lockwood, I was in the same class (2012) as your daughter Riley. We lived on the same hall freshman year, and I came over to your home once to play Rock Band.

When I chose Samford, I thought I would be in a place where I could possibly grow academically and spiritually. Reality hit when I arrived on campus, and I felt out of place. My perception was that my feelings as a Christian and as a long time LGBTQ ally didn't align with the university and many of my peers. Even though I felt out of place, I found a community within the journalism department and through slowly finding friends who were LGBTQ and allies. Unfortunately, so many people felt ashamed or scared to truly live out who they truly are that it felt secretive to share who were truly are. Frankly, no one should have to fear for sharing their identity.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"But as much as I love Samford, I love my friends and family more"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

I love my alma mater. The faculty there pushed me to question my paradigm, think critically, and and act with bravery and kindness. Your deeply disappointing decision regarding SAFE Samford does not reflect that spirit of inquiry, fairness, and love.

I write as a 2010 Samford alum, a PhD candidate in English at the University of Kentucky, and an ally of LGBTQ+ friends and family.

I'm in graduate school, doing what I love the most--teaching, writing, and reading--because of outstanding professors at Samford. I used to dream of returning to campus as a professor and continuing the vital work of teaching and mentoring at a school I love dearly.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"They deserve the right to congregate, to be open about who they are"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

My name is Elissa England (formerly Young), and I graduated with honors from Samford University in 2008. Since my time at Samford, I have tried to stay involved and connected with those I was close to, including the English Department, London Study Programs and various professors and staff members employed by your institution. I consider my time at Samford a happy time and am grateful for all I learned, the friendships cultivated and memories shared as a student there.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"The very life of a young person could hinge upon Christians at Samford"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

I write to you as both a Samford alumna (class of 1991) and as a college educator.  If free intellectual inquiry cannot take place at a university, then I do not know where it can take place.  Samford Together seeks to create a space where Samford students, faculty, and staff members can discuss human sexuality in a safe and respectful manner.  It is the perfect example of students taking the lead in exploring truth and showing grace to each other.  I humbly request that Samford Together receive an up-or-down vote from the university’s board of trustees as any other student group seeking recognition would receive.

Read More
Brit Blalock
"It is important for humans to feel safe"

Dear Dr. Westmoreland,

I was a graduate of Samford in 2006. I look back on my years at Samford fondly. One of the things I share with people is that Samford felt like family. The size of the school, the collective longing for community, and the overall attitude of the staff all contributed to me feeling loved and safe there. 

Safe. it is important for humans to feel safe. As young children develop safety is crucial. As 19 year olds are entering their years at Samford I know you want them to feel safe and supported. 

Read More
Brit Blalock
" I implore you to bring Samford University onto the right side of history"

Dr. Westmoreland,

I would encourage you to have the courage and conviction to do the right thing in not just bringing Samford Together's recognition before the board but to throw your full weight and support behind the group's existence and recognition. As the leader of a place of higher learning and a place where open discussions are the very point of a university, I implore you to bring Samford University onto the right side of history. 

Read More
Brit Blalock
"the 'biblical' definition of marriage and sexuality is not monolithic among Christians"

Dr. Westmoreland, 

Since I sent you a note thanking you for putting aside your personal views when presenting the Samford Together group to the faculty, I felt I needed to follow up expressing my disappointment with your unilateral decision to go against the faculty's overwhelming wish that the Board vote on formal recognition. Even if you did this out of some misguided paternalism to protect Samford Together from a rejection (or out of a desire to stave off an accompanying PR disaster for the school), your action was the wrong step. 

Read More
Brit Blalock