The president and board of Eastern Mennonite University approved Monday, Nov. 19, what they have euphemistically called a “listening period” for same-sex couples on campus. Current institutional rules against such sexual sins are being suspended at the historically Christian university for six months.  It was unclear what the administration and board are hoping to “hear” while homosexuals on campus freely engage in behaviors previously banned by policy.

During this “listening period,” faculty, staff and students in same-sex relationships will not be penalized for violating the university’s current policies. Because professors in such relationships can keep their jobs and practicing homosexuals can be hired during this period, the institution seems highly unlikely to maintain previous policies against homosexual relations on campus, since it would potentially mean firing some long-serving professors and others just hired.

According to a report in Inside Higher Ed, the university’s president told the faculty and staff, “As a Christian university it is our responsibility to engage in community discussion and discernment over issues that Mennonite congregations – indeed almost all denominations in the United States today – are wrestling with.” The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the six-month policy review period beginning in January.