The president of Loyola Marymount University declined Thursday to endorse a gay student group that sought recognition as an official campus organization, but he said the students will be granted access to the campus facilities and services.
The Jesuit school issued a statement saying that the university "cannot endorse or condone . . . a sexually active homosexual life style." However, the statement noted that the university community should "support those among us who happen to be homosexual."
The 12-member group, the Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, sought official recognition from President James N. Loughran. As an official campus club, the group would have the right to meet on the Westchester campus, to advertise in the campus newsletter, and to receive university funding.
Since the group was formed in an off-campus apartment last spring, the issue of whether it should be officially recognized has been the subject of a campuswide debate.
James Munselle, alliance president, called Loughran's decision "an offer of separate but equal."
"We're not asking the university to endorse homosexual activity," Munselle said. "The university is unable to make a distinction between sexual orientation and sexual activity."
Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the alliance, called the statement "insulting . . . It does not spell out why they should be treated differently. It's relegating gays and lesbians on campus to second-class citizenship." Allred said she is sending Loughran a letter today asking him to grant the group full recognition.
To be recognized as an official campus club, a group must receive the approval of the Student Affairs Committee after submitting a list of officers and a draft of its constitution. Final approval comes from the president.
Lane Bove, vice president for student affairs, said the alliance would be able to meet on campus, but whether they have access to funding and other privileges had not yet been decided.
"We'll be meeting with James and other members of the alliance and nailing those things down as they come up," Bove said. She said the university's Student Affairs Committee has formed an ad hoc group of two faculty members, two staff members and a student to meet with alliance members.
"The university's point is not to get hung up on the recognition issue but to move forward on the issue of recognizing the needs" of homosexual students, Bove said.
"Not only do we need to be responding to our gay and lesbian students, we need to also be addressing the ignorance and fear and prejudice and the homophobic attitude among the students," Bove said. "We need to speak to the education side of the issue as well."