Unchristian-like Christian university expels lesbian student and demands she pay back her financial aid

It’s a particular kind of petty vindictiveness to demand that the student you expelled pay back federal student aid for the crime of failing to complete the semester.

In 2011, Grace University, a Christian university, expelled Danielle Powell, only months before graduating, after discovering that she was in a relationship with another woman. The university is now demanding she pay $6,000 of federal student financial aid she received for her studies since she did not finish the semester.

Grace University’s position is, dare I say, kinda unchristian-like..

The devil lives in the details. Grace’s claim to Powell are not federal rules, and according to the Department of Education, they have no claim over repayment of these funds and has stated the dispute is between Powell and Grace U. It’s the school’s discretion to administer federal funds to cover education expenses. Currently, there are not any rules that govern university policies to prevent someplace like Grace U from discriminating against its students based on sexual orientation. This gray area actually appears to be a bigger issue, and hopefully, will lead to a speedy resolution for Powell. You can sign a petition to the school here.

I don’t imagine that Grace U would want to open pandora’s box, inviting the DOE to scrutinize how they allocate federal funding for all students, regardless of their very dated and “Orwellian” Christian code of conduct for their students:

Grace’s Student Handbook includes a litany of rules all students are required to sign and abide by. For example, students are not allowed to watch HBO, VH1, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, or any R-rated movie on campus. It also includes severe limitations on displays of affection, explicitly prohibiting activities like “extending holding or embracing one another,” “lying next to each other,” kissing, and “giving backrubs/rubbing shoulders.” “Homosexual acts” are considered “sexually immoral behavior” and thus a “Level-Three violation,” which at minimum includes University Probation and possibly fines starting at $100.

Yikes. I’m not sure why anyone wanted to go to school there. No 106th and Park? No Real World?? No Jon Stewart?? I can’t hug my friends? Is this that town in Footloose? I’m not sure why Powell chose Grace U, but I’d have to assume that she really struggled through her time there to adhere to a code that any one of us would fail at sustaining. That was probably punishment enough.

To end on a happy note, check out Powell getting engaged to her wife Michelle Rogers at a Macklemore concert after the jump. 

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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