Diane De Young
Associate Director of the Hope Fund
PO Box 9000
Holland, MI 49424-9000
Dear Ms. De Young,
Thank you for your recent letter alerting me to the upcoming Hope College Phonathon. I am writing to explain why I will not be contributing to the campaign; you are welcome to share my reasons with whomever might benefit from this information.
As I’m sure your records indicate, I attended Hope College from 1998-2005, graduating with a BA in Women’s Studies and History (double major). During my seven years at Hope, I formed lasting relationships with my faculty mentors and received what I would consider a superior college education. While at Hope, I benefited from merit and need-based scholarships, as well as the tuition benefit awarded to children of Hope College employees (my father is Mark Cook, director of the Hope-Geneva Bookstore). The quality of my Hope College experience was part of what enabled me to make the most of my graduate education at Simmons College, where I completed an MA in History and an MS in Library Science. Today, I serve as the Reference Librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and this past March I had the rewarding experience of returning to Hope College as a guest speaker at the Women’s Studies Celebration. I was recently asked to provide a letter of support for Dr. Jeanne Petit as she is considered for promotion to the rank of Full Professor, a request it was my pleasure to fulfill.
However, as a woman who will shortly be marrying my girlfriend of the past three years here in Massachusetts, I am a Hope College alumni who feels unwelcome and unloved by the institution as a whole. In April 2010, as the Board of Trustees was revisiting their support of the current Institutional Statement on Homosexuality, I wrote to then-Chairperson Joel Bowens and explained that until Hope College alters its position on human sexuality to be affirming of all a full range of human orientations, identities, and desires, I will not support the college financially. I cannot in good conscience send money to an institution that does not recognize the legitimacy of my primary relationship. I will speak up whenever given the opportunity — such as during fundraising campaigns — against the actions and words of the Board, and of Hope as an institution, that continue to create a hostile environment for faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are not straight or do not believe that non-straight sexuality is immoral.
I will continue to speak highly of the faculty who mentored me, and provide what support I can to individuals and programs that are welcoming and affirming to all (such as the Women’s Studies program). Yet I will not be participating in the Phonathon, in the Hope Fund, or any other fundraising campaigns until Hope College as an institution recognizes and affirms the lives of those of us who find joy and meaning in same-sex relationships.
I look forward to watching Hope’s progress toward a more inclusive future, and hope that someday I will be able to respond to your requests without reservation.
Anna J. Cook (’05)
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