If you read our blog fairly regularly, you likely know that we write a whole lot about LGBT inclusivity at colleges across America. It’s an important issue to us and it has been for years. Willamette University is a school that has never come up before on our blog but it is deserving of a special “shout out” today. For those not familiar with Willamette University, it’s located in Salem, Oregon and it’s the oldest university in the western United States (it was founded in 1842). In the most recent rankings of “US News & World Report,” Willamette was ranked 63rd among liberal arts colleges so, no, it’s not a college we write about much being as our company gears itself towards the most highly selective colleges.
But Willamette put out a press release yesterday that moved us and we wanted to share it with you. As you may or may not know, a football player for Willamette came out as bisexual yesterday and he marks the first college football player to be openly a member of the LGBT community while still competing collegiately. Our good friend at “Outsports,” Cyd Ziegler, wrote a wonderful piece on the player — Conner Mertens — that shared his story with the world.
And so how did the university respond? With this beautiful statement: ” Willamette University fully supports Conner Mertens and respects his contribution to a more humane and just world. Willamette University is, at its core, a community of people dedicated to learning. Our motto, ‘Not unto ourselves alone are we born,’ is our guiding principle. It tells us that we have a responsibility for each other. Willamette’s inclusive campus community inspires students to find and pursue their passions. By transforming knowledge into action, we learn about ourselves. Our student-athletes work hard to succeed in competition and in the classroom, but they don’t stop there. Willamette students apply what they’ve learned to their lives, their careers and their communities. This is the essence of our motto and what it means to be a Bearcat.”
Wow! “…respects his contribution to a more humane and just world.” It gave us chills. Ivy Coach salutes Willamette University on this momentous occasion. May one day an announcement like this not be news. But today, it sure is.