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Outgoing Goshen College staffer shares frustration with school's hiring practices

After two years of hiding a part of herself while working on Goshen College’s campus, Tabi Berkey decided to take another job and share why she didn't feel comfortable as a lesbian staff member.

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 8:06 p.m.

When Tabi Berkey got engaged, she wanted to tell the world.

Her world is Goshen, where she grew up, and especially Goshen College, where she’s worked as a library services assistant since 2012.

But Berkey, who is a lesbian, was afraid to share the news with coworkers because her commitment to another woman goes against the college’s request that staff and faculty members in GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning) relationships remain celibate

“It was my job, it was my 40-hour a week job, and I couldn't run the risk of losing that,” Berkey said. “I knew there was a possibility the wrong person on campus would find out.”

When she and her fiancée received joint job offers in Cincinnati, Berkey decided to make her engagement known on campus. After resigning from her job, she sent a letter to school administration asking for a change in hiring practices. 

She posted the same letter to Facebook through the Open Letter group, a student-led organization actively working toward changing the hiring practices at the school.

Since sending the letter, Berkey hadn't heard back from the college’s administration as of Tuesday evening.

Read Tabi Berkey’s entire letter here.

Berkey’s last day at work is Friday, and she’s moving from Goshen on Saturday.

She said she decided to publicly denounce the hiring practices at the school because she felt secure with a new job lined up.

Getting engaged, and the feeling of not being able to share her happiness with colleagues and friends on a college campus that she loves, also made her feel it was time for a change.

She’s been shocked by the support she’s gotten from coworkers, students and even strangers since her letter was published.

"I passed a girl on my bike today, and she shouted out, ’Thanks for the letter!’” Berkey said. “It feels amazing. I just want to thank everyone.”

Jodi Beyeler, interim director of communications for Goshen College, sent the following statement in an email to The Elkhart Truth Tuesday: 

"As a Mennonite liberal arts college, we hope and expect that our students, faculty and staff are thinking about and engaging in discussion, dialogue and debate around all issues that face the larger church and global community, including homosexuality,” she wrote.

“This discussion has been happening for a long time on campus, in the Mennonite church and broader society, and there continue to be a range of understandings, experiences and perspectives. We are grateful that Tabi was able to be a part of that discussion here before choosing to move on to her next stage of life."

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks




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