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An Open Letter to the Westmont Community

February 1, 2011

Submitted to the Westmont Horizon on January 18th, 2011. Last updated November 11, 2021.


Dear Westmont,

We are a group of alumni who were moved by Artie Van Why’s letter in the November 16th Horizon. That article was not written by a Westmont student. However, it resonated for those of us who, as Westmont students, experienced doubt, loneliness, and fear due to the college’s stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. We affirm, with Artie, that it does get better and hope that it will get better at Westmont too.

We offer our names as proof that LGBT people do exist within the Westmont community:

James S. Adams ‘88
Miguel Angel Aguilar ‘10
Rev. Dr. Alan R. Akana ‘82
Josh Alamillo ‘12
Liz Barnes ‘81
Mark Benson ‘65
John Berger ‘78
Jesse Bernal ‘05
Rebecca Bodor ‘83
Emerson Boyle ‘11
Robyn Brammer ‘87
Andrew Brewer ‘79
Rev. Dr. Beth Buckingham-Brown ‘85
Melanie Day ‘09
John Denissen ‘81
Andrew DeVore ‘93
Jessie Drake ‘11
Brooke Drake (Edmondson) ‘94
Melissa Durkee ‘00
Jay Edwards ‘90
Evan Engle ‘09
Eva Glover ‘10
Sarah Groeneveld ‘08
Lindy Giusta ‘06
Karen Gunderson ‘77
Hannah Gustavson ‘10
Sabrina Haley ‘00
Rev. Dr. Jennifer A. Harvey ‘93
Caroline Hoag ‘79
Rev. Larry Holben ‘67
Marti Johnson ‘99
Debbie King ‘74
Nancy King ‘80
Josh LaMar ‘02
Jennifer Lorden ‘07
Rev. Darren McDonald ‘02
Erich Miller ‘91
Kerstin Mooneyham ‘09
Michael King Moore ‘82
Alyssa Nitchun ‘00
Alexis Ortiz ‘06
Kathy Patterson ‘84
Randy Pencin ‘93
David Platt ‘91
Gil Resultan ‘87
Sara Reynolds ‘11
Eric Rindal ‘10
Dr. Jallen Rix ‘86
Josh Roby ‘99
Sue Sadler ‘85
Darla L. Shaffer ‘86
Cheri Spencer ‘81
Tyler Slattery ‘10
Hillary Southard (Gallacher) ‘03
Jennifer Stoughton ‘93
Lucy Suros ‘94
Ryan Talen ‘14
Deb Tullmann ‘00
Sara Volle ‘05
Aidan Wang ‘07
Nathan Welty ‘08
Jenny Wheat ‘12
Hannah Miller Wilder ‘02
Jimmy Wittrock ‘10
Jenny Yates ‘88
Colleen Young ‘82
Shpetim Zero ‘00

We allies support our LGBT friends and classmates:

Alexis Alegria ‘06
Millicent Cox Ambroggio ‘96
Brannon Anderson ‘00
Jon Annett ‘03
Kate Apostle ‘08
Alicia Archambault ‘11
Paul Arganbright ‘74
Elaine Arkin ‘06
Lindsey (Kwartz) Ballinger ‘06
Nathan Ballinger ‘05
Amanda Bancroft ‘09
Cari Base ‘09
Suzanne Bates ‘83
Bethany Morookian Bentley ‘96
Alex Branderhorst ‘03
Ana Branderhorst (Matta) ‘02
Diana (Hochstedt) Butler Bass ‘81
Megan Burwell ‘06
Monica Carter ‘96
Ravyn Cervantes ‘10
Ruth Cheadle ‘08
Gracie Chisholm ‘03
Stephen Cobb ‘05
Alex Coleman ‘10
Sonya Coles ‘07
Alison Criss ‘05
Amanda Crowley ‘08
Kirsten Cruzen ‘99
Jordan Cunnings ‘08
Rev. Ben Daniel ‘90
Kelly Gruver Davio ‘04
Peter Davio ‘02
Debra Davis (Giblin-Davis) ‘76
Nikki Delahooke ‘10
Dan Derby ‘00
Rebecca Edwards ‘07
Jonathan Ekblad ‘07
Rose Elfman ‘06
Michael Ericksen ‘07
Anders Erickson ‘07
Jen Forbes ‘09
Cambria Forden ‘05
Jon Freeman ‘86
Betsie Frei ‘06
Kevin Funkhouser ‘05
Tori (Lund) Funkhouser ‘07
Katie Gaddini ‘06
Daniel Elias Galicia ‘07
Dianna Garrett ‘81
Kristen Gaylord ‘09
Jeff Given ‘05
Jennifer Goebel ‘05
Taylor Gray ‘08
TeriAnn Grimes ‘06
Jena Gray Gunderson ‘01
Phillip Grigsby ‘10
Joel Gunderson ‘99
Hannah Guzik ‘07
Diana Hall ‘07
Mikie Hall ‘10
Amy Halliburton ‘06
Lindsay Hardgrave ‘08
Chris Hayashida-Knight ‘00
Rebecca Hensley ‘06
Kristy Heim ‘90
Kellie Nicole Hicks ‘08
Jessica Hipple ‘08
Alex Hodson ‘07
Colleen James Howell ‘99
Ryan Howell ‘98
Grete Howland ‘03
Felix S. Huang ‘11
Angelica Huato-Nelson ‘01
Mark Huntsman ‘97
Lisa Nasby Jacobs ‘02
Bethany Jacobs ‘05
Kati Jagger ‘08
Melissa Johnson ‘07
Sandra Redd Johanson ‘78
Mark Johnson ’82
Derek Jones ‘03
Joshua Keaney ‘01
Lauren Keener-Gonzalez ‘08
Rachel Kelly ‘08
Dori (Santos) Koehler ‘99
Liane Koh ‘08
Robyn Kwartz ‘08
Suzanne Labadie ‘01
George Lee ‘04
Juliana Lee ‘06
Tyler Leivo ‘09
Lizzy LeRud ‘07
Anna Lieberman ‘09
Daniel London ‘05
Kaci L. W. Lynch ‘06
Caroline Main ‘11
Christine Manley ‘06
Adam Marshall ‘08
Lynne Martens ‘08
Jeremy Martin ‘07
Amanda Mathisen Stylianou ‘06
Rev. Deborah (House) Matthews ‘96
Katie Matsumoto ‘11
Matthew McGraw ‘97
Aaron McGregor ‘07
Ed Melendez ‘91
Jane Messah-Ericksen ‘06
Jacob Miller ‘11
Monique Mitchell ‘07
Hannah Rae Moore ‘11
Chandra Morris ‘07
Laurie Niesen ‘10
Hannah Notess ’03
Meghan Nowell ‘09
Darcy O’Brien ‘01
Jessica Osborn ‘06
Jeannette Page ‘08
Sarah Palm ‘07
Jonathan Palmquist ‘11
Jessica Papp ‘10
Jenna Pederson ‘06
Dan Percival ‘96
Linnae Himsl Peterson ‘80
Britta K Phillips ‘01
Chris Phillips ‘00
Joel Pierson ‘01
Katie Pinson ‘10
Rachel Prandini ‘06
Lucas Price ‘01
Nicholas Price ‘06
Katie Rea ‘08
Susan (Roosenberg) Reinhart ‘67
Seth A Roby ‘03
Melissa Rodriguez ‘91
Julie Roley ‘90
Katrina Romanowsky ‘05
Cora Rose ‘07
Jessica (Weber) Roy ‘07
Kjesten Rubke ‘05
Cheryl Rusnak ‘01
Adrienne Samaniego ‘08
Erica Sells ‘05
Cesie Delve Scheuermann ‘80
Rachel Scholten ‘11
Cory Schoolland ‘08
Joshua Schroeder ‘08
Erin Sells ‘03
Sandra Anderson Sittser ‘81
Kim Skadan ‘02
Katie Slottje ‘01
Erica Stetz ‘10
Deb St. Julien ‘77
Sara Sullivan ‘97
Zack Turner ‘06
Jessie Twigg-Harris ‘99
Chelsea Unruh ‘03
Lesley Unruh ‘96
Marlene Valderrama ‘08
Alan Van Wyk ‘95
Ashley Varela ’10
Brent Velthoen ‘95
Julianna Gustafson Velthoen ‘96
Don Volle ‘73
Sarah-Sue Wadell (Orman) ‘01
Lauren Wallace ‘05
Andrea Warren ‘96
Kim Post Watson ‘82
Ryan Weeda ‘06
Benjamin Wenzel ‘07
Samantha Williams Werley ‘05
Ashley Werner ‘08
Ben Westrup ‘05
Diana White ‘77
Justin Whittet ‘07
Judy Martin Williams ‘82
Eric Winter ‘08
Ben Woerner ‘99
Michelle Wolff ‘05
Brian Wright ‘90
Rebecca Johnson Wright ‘91

12 Comments leave one →
  1. deanneliu permalink
    February 2, 2011 1:35 am

    I stand with you all. Thanks for writing this letter.

  2. edmelendez91 permalink
    February 2, 2011 4:11 pm

    I stand with you as well, as an ally and as a friend. My hope is the signed letter will open up a discussion at Westmont that will lead to more understanding, compassion and a complete re-thinking of the stance the school has taken. I do also hope that it will lead Westmont to a more informed position as well as a greater respect for all individuals(especially students), their lives and choices. There is nothing “deviant” about how one identifies! Sincerely, Ed Melendez ’91.

  3. February 8, 2011 6:46 pm

    I add my own support to the sentiments above. After remaining silent for so long, Westmont cannot rely on hollow diplomatic statements (however heartfelt they might be) to avoid conflict or skirt the true nature of this debate.

  4. March 25, 2011 2:54 pm

    Thank you for being brave! Westmont ’77

  5. January 8, 2012 6:13 am

    Hi, if you’d like to be formally added to this letter, please send us an e-mail at

  6. kelseburns permalink
    May 25, 2012 9:23 pm

    I hope this letter is supported by many. I left Westmont after only one semester.

    In my sociology class one day towards the end of my semester the subject of homosexuality was brought up. I figured this was a mundane subject and already knew what everyone would say. My teacher asked the class our thoughts on homosexuality were. I raised my hand and was the first to answer. I simply expressed how some of my very best friends were gay, I had no problem with it, I was a firm believer in gay marriage, etc, etc. I figured everyone else would agree. I was completely wrong. Our teacher made every single person answer and I was the only one in the entire class that thought that way. I was absolutely shocked. Students were openly speaking about how they thought homosexuality was a sin, morally wrong, they couldn’t accept someone who was homosexual in there church, etc. It went on, and on and I couldn’t believe my ears. Every. Single. Person. They all thought it to be some horrible crime.

    Westmont needs to open up its mind and stop living in the past. I felt like I was in the deep South or something the way everyone was talking. I was shocked and appalled. I couldn’t have stayed at a school with such a mindset.

  7. September 14, 2012 10:53 pm

    kelseburns I am sorry to hear about your experience that semester. I spent my whole time at Westmont with same sex attractions and (obviously) being VERY aware of the topic: where, how, and what was said by peers, friends, professors and staff. Not to discount your experience, but I am surprised that every person in the class felt the same way and that the professor left the topic closed and simplified. That was not how it was dealt while I was there. I LOVED my time at Westmont and after having come out within the last year, I have been encouraged and supported by many people from Westmont. It will definitely take time and Westmont may never change its view, but I don’t doubt that the same kind of love I experienced at Westmont will continue. Would love to hear more of your thoughts!

  8. March 30, 2013 9:18 pm

    Standing alongside you all.


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