"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.

Eventually, I found more and more friends who felt the same way I do: conversations and transparency about sexual identity and gender identity are incredibly important and that Christians can be of any orientation or gender identity. We became the Samford Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and would quietly meet in a sociology classroom. There were just a few of us, but we needed that safe space and needed time with professors and staff who believed that the LGBTQ students on this campus were just as equal as everyone else. It was always hard when were would participate in the National Day of Silence or try to organize an event because we weren't "University-sanctioned". 

As an alumnae, I was so excited to hear about Samford Together and relieved that a group such as Samford Together was organized and had traction on campus. Many of us lived very scared, closeted lives at Samford, and I want to make sure current students have more resources than we had. Now, I am incredibly hurt that you do not value the LGBTQ students on Samford's Campus enough to let the group be put up to a vote. It seems cowardly. This decision violates the University's Core Values. This is open discrimination towards anyone who is LGBTQ or an ally. Samford is a place full of love but sadly not directed at the students who need it. I just want students to be safer and more comfortable above ALL else.

Thank you for your time, 
Annie Lockwood, Class of '12

Brit Blalock