A student diversity group at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is rallying their classmates to sign a petition to remove “In the year of our Lord” from their diplomas.
The Trinity Diversity Connection, whose president is a Muslim student at the Presbyterian-founded school, argues that such wording “is in direct conflict with certain religious beliefs,” “does not reflect the inclusiveness of our alma mater,” and would be appropriate to change now “considering that Trinity University is not a religious institution and merely has a covenant relationship with its Presbyterian roots.”
“In order for our diplomas to accurately reflect the diversity that Trinity University proudly upholds, we respectfully ask that they simply state ‘the year two thousand nine [ten, eleven, etc.]’ or use the designation ‘Common Era’,” the petition states.
Not all students are for the change, however, and Trinity President Dennis Ahlburg has noted that, as an institution, Trinity should not ignore its cultural and religious heritage and roots.
Still, in the interest of free and open exchange of ideas and thoughts, Susie Phillips Gonzalez, assistant director of public relations at Trinity, says the university has held a forum to examine the request from a range of viewpoints. The forum, moderated by the university’s debate coach, featured three-minute presentations from Trinity faculty in the disciplines of religion, philosophy, communication, history, and political science, as well as questions and ideas from the students.
“Trinity University promotes a diverse campus population and values the benefits of diversity as we educate the next generation of global leaders,” commented David Tuttle, interim vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
Founded in 1869 by Cumberland Presbyterians in Tehuacana, Texas, Trinity was formed from the remnants of three small Cumberland Presbyterian colleges that had closed during the Civil War
In 1942, Trinity moved to San Antonio at the request community leaders there and, in 1969, at the initiation of the regional PC(U.S.A.) synod there, the school entered into a covenant agreement that affirmed its historical connections.
In May, the Board of Trustees is expected to consider the question of changing the language of diplomas.
Presently, the student body consists of 2,703 students from 45 states and 64 countries - approximately 43 percent of which have studied in a different country.
About 70 percent of students at Trinity describe themselves as Christians, 2 percent as Jewish, 0.6 percent as Muslim, and 0.6 percent as Buddhist. Twenty-four percent, meanwhile opted not to answer, and three percent said “other.”