Students at PLNU and other faith- based universities could potentially no longer receive Cal Grants from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), for the 2017-2018 school year if a bill is passed.
The bill, AB 1888, would prevent the Cal Grant being available at institutions that discriminate based on gender and sexual orientations. The bill added that religious universities couldn’t apply for a Title IX waiver, which allows them to discriminate based on religious grounds.
The bill reads:
“(…) as a condition for its [PLNU] voluntary participation in the Cal Grant Program, to certify to the commission in the institution’s participation agreement for The Cal Grant Program that the institution shall not subject a student or employee of the institution to discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and that the institution shall not apply for, or receive, a waiver by the United States Department of Education from nondiscrimination requirements for the receipt of federal funds.”
PLNU President Bob Brower and PLNU Director of Public Affairs said that the school has not filed for a Title IX exemption, but they said that doing so would not matter because the bill applies to all religious universities.
“(…) we believe that there is a broad misconception that this bill applies only to schools that hold a Title IX waiver,” Brower said via email. “In fact, as drafted, this bill prohibits Cal Grants from being used at any faith-based institution, whether or not they have a Title IX waiver, this includes PLNU.”
Brower and Monroe added that PLNU has not applied for Title IX exemptions. However, in 2014 Brower signed a letter with the Council for Christian Colleges (CCCU) that would allow PLNU to discriminate during their hiring process based on someone’s sexuality. This would make PLNU ineligible for Cal Grants aside from the school applying for a Title IX exemption.
They added that they believe the Cal Grant is for students of need and it would stop students from going to the university that they want to attend.
“A Cal Grant is a state entitlement award given to California students and their families to use at the college or university that best fits the student’s needs and preferences, whether it be a public or private nonprofit university,” Brower said.
“Removing the choice from California’s neediest students does not fulfill the goals of the California Master Plan for Higher Education.”
Sophomore and fashion merchandising major Jose Herrera said that PLNU is a school and that they should be educating people and not discriminating.
“I don’t care [what you are], be the best you can be if that’s what you were placed on this earth for (…),” Herrera said. “That’s what educational institutions are here for and Point Loma failing to see that is ignorant. If Point Loma is trying to make people good religious people, then they need to take the ‘university’ word out and make it ‘church.’”
Herrera added that universities exist to make good people in the workforce and that should be available for anyone no matter who they are.
Associate Vice President for Financial Services Cindy Chappell said that 540 students at PLNU receive a Cal Grant, if the bill is passed PLNU students would no longer be eligible for the Cal Grant. The Cal Grant is worth around $9,000 per year so if the bill were passed it would cost PLNU about $4,860,000 yearly.
However, Brower said the since this is still in the legislative process, things could change in the bill. Monroe and Brower added that PLNU is working to find out more information and gain a better understanding of where the bill is going.
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