Yes, certain portions of the program during Winthrop's weeklong discussion of issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were included on the list of cultural events that students could attend for credit. But not all the events were on that list, and students had a choice of whether or not to attend.
Winthrop has a commendable policy of requiring students to attend a certain number of cultural events to qualify for graduation. Students have a wide range of events from which to choose, including plays, concerts, art exhibits, political lectures, poetry readings, debates and many others.
During the past week in which the campus addressed gay issues, cultural events that students could attend for credit included a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" lecture by Eric Alva, a retired staff sergeant and the first U.S. soldier injured in the Iraq war. The week also featured panel discussions and a debate about differing ideas of marriage.
Other events, however, such as a mock gay wedding, were not eligible for credit.
We understand why some students might not choose to attend these events. But on a diverse campus with a student population that includes gays, lesbians and bisexuals, we think the serious portions of the week's program legitimately qualified as cultural events designed to raise awareness and promote a reasoned discussion of issues relating to human sexuality.
And it was just one of many such programs sponsored by Winthrop throughout the year. Again, attendance was a matter of choice.
We applaud Winthrop for requiring students to attend cultural events. It helps create a better-rounded student and challenges intellectual and cultural assumptions, often teaching students lessons they might not learn in the classroom.
And that, we think, is an important part of what higher learning is all about.
Last week's gay and lesbian events at Winthrop University were part of a wide-ranging program.