UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | July 20, 2024

LGBT Student Association, community protest WCF speaker

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Following a peaceful protest outside the Udvar-Hazy School of Business Sept. 14, the LGBT Student Association plans to meet the Executive Leadership Club Wednesday to discuss its concerns. 

The club had invited Wayne Tew, a former CEO of a Clark County Credit Union, to speak to students and the community about the importance of kindness and integrity in the workplace. Tew is also the chairman for the World Congress of Families, an organization known to oppose the LGBT lifestyle.

Tew is a part of an organization that supported Nigeria’s criminalization of homosexuality, has worked closely with Vladimir Putin in passing anti-LGBT laws in Russia and they have supported Proposition 8 in California.

In an email, President Biff Williams said Tew cancelled his appearance Sept. 14 due to a last-minute scheduling conflict.   

ELC Faculty Advisor Travis Seegmiller declined to comment on the protest held by the LGBT Student Association in response to Tews’ invitation.

In response to Tews’ invitation to speak, the LGBT Student Association reached out to the local community by contacting several news outlets and other various groups to inform them of the peaceful protest they were planning to have on the campus of Dixie State University.

The LGBT Student Association, Barrett Beck, LGBT community specialist and GSA adviser, along with a couple of members from the community, gathered to hold signs, answer questions and spread awareness about groups like the WCF to individuals passing by. The club had supplied multiple forms for those who passed by to sign and pledge their support for this group. They received 46 signatures.

“[This] is kind of what this club is for — to give a voice to the people who don’t exactly have one,” said Dallin Terrill, a sophomore general studies major from St. George.

During the middle of the protest, several members from the ELC came and presented the LGBT Student Association with burritos from Chipotle as a way settle any qualms between the two groups.

After several attempts from the LGBT Student Association to get the ELC members to stay and discuss the situation, Kyle Wells, the dean of the business school,  stayed behind and discuss the purpose of the protest. Though there was an attempt to come to an understanding, Wells said he still defended the decision the ELC made to invite Tew.

“Our hope on this campus is that we can be respectful and inclusive of all people and positions,” Wells said. “Although I disagree with (Barrett Beck) the intentions of the Executive Leadership Club in bringing Mr. Tew to our campus, I believe we can all work together with mutual respect to ensure that First Amendment rights are protected on this campus.”

On the other hand, members of the LGBT Student Association said they wondered why the ELC invited Tew in the first place because of his connection to the WCF.

“I am hoping that the ELC and other student clubs [that] are associated with the business department will think a little bit more carefully [about] who they are inviting for the future,” Beck said. “It has made LGBT students feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable on this campus.”