Saint Joseph’s University Alumni Association is hosting a Valentine’s Day contest for couples who met during their time at the university, and fiancées Megan Edwards and Katie McTurk were excited to enter the How I Met My Hawk Mate contest and possibly win a $100 gift card to their favorite restaurant but found out the competition is only for straight couples, according to Jezebel.
The couple eagerly submitted their story (below) to the SJU Alumni Association’s competition:
For our first three years at SJU, Katie took her classes in Post or Bellarmine, while Meg was camped out in Barbelin; Katie spent her free time at the Fieldhouse or on the river with the crew team, while Meg was in Campion, Wolfington, or on some service trip. But, despite our best efforts to go our entire college career completely oblivious to each other's existence, we finally met in our senior year through a friend and classmate at SJU. We somehow remained inseparable our senior year in spite of Katie's demanding crew schedule and Meg's involvement in nearly every other activity on campus. Since graduation, we have built our life together in Philadelphia and loved every minute of it. We were engaged this past October and are looking forward to our wedding in 2013!
The stories submitted for the contest were going to be posted on the SJU Alumni Association Facebook page so that alum could vote via a “Like” on the stories of couples. Several days after submitting their story, it was still not posted to the Facebook page so McTurk called to find out why their story was missing. She was told that the association had “discussed [their] submission,” and opted to not accept it since “the Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage.”
Edwards posted about the situation on her own Facebook, writing “despite the ten years we (collectively) studied at Saint Joseph’s, the hundreds of thousands of dollars we’ve paid in tuition dollars over these ten years, and countless hours we have dedicated to SJU, our relationship does not seem to exist in the Alumni Association’s eyes. To them, we are not hawkmates.”
She also added:
Collectively, Katie and I have proudly represented SJU in countless endeavors across the country, and even internationally. I have been proud to be a Hawk ever since receiving my acceptance letter! That pride has been reflected in our passion for SJU – yet SJU does not feel that same pride in having us as alumni. This is no longer about the "How I Met My Hawkmate" competition, but more importantly, it is about the equality of ALL SJU alumni.
As a Catholic university, it is not unheard of that the Alumni Association would exclude gays, as the Catholic Church is officially against gay marriage. However, Jezebel thought to check out the Saint Joseph’s mission statement, which seems more liberal than some Catholic schools, as it does not contain language regarding traditional marriage or contraception. Rather, it has statements such this passage:
For this University, Christ and the Church are sources of truth, guides and inspirations for life. Catholic values are normative, including: full respect for the freedom of conscience of each person, freedom in research and teaching according to one's discipline, and the continuous pursuit of truth, human rights, and the common good. We foster a lived awareness of the challenging and mutually enriching interaction between Christian faith and diverse contemporary culture; we seek to engage the full participation of the entire community in the University's intellectual, cultural, and spiritual life.
Whether or not the Alumni Association’s decision to exclude McTurk and Edwards from the contest is part of an official policy is not known, and requests for comments from other news sources are still unanswered.