Dallas Theological Seminary asks about applicants’ health and fitness and a lot more

The professor had agreed to create a letter of suggestion for a student’s application to graduate university. It was a standard ask for from a fantastic student, the form of request the professor gets every semester.

Then the advice kind arrived. And a little something appeared off.

There was a problem about the student’s “actual physical ailment,” with these probable solutions:

  • Commonly incapacitated
  • Fairly underneath par
  • Quite healthful
  • Good wellbeing
  • Do not know

The professor — who requested not be identified to stay away from hurting the chances of admission for his student — explained the query built no feeling.

“I feel that some of the thoughts are fully out of bounds, mainly because they are inherently discriminatory,” he explained by way of email. “Potentially the most apparent are the initial established of issues about ‘physical affliction.’ As somebody who will work in the tutorial aspect of spiritual research, I know very well a lot of spiritual leaders. Some of these good friends and acquaintances are bodily disabled (in different ways abled). Some have rather critical bodily variations. However they are also some of the most gifted ministers, rabbis, dharma instructors (or other form of religious leader) I know. Bodily condition is no predictor of ability to accomplish as a minister.”

The professor also objected to other inquiries from Dallas Theological Seminary, which features instruction on campuses in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin in Texas, and also has campuses in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Washington. It features 16 degrees, like master’s degrees in theology, Biblical counseling, chaplaincy, Christian instruction and Christian leadership, and a Ph.D. and other doctoral degrees. (Not all of the courses are supplied on each individual campus.)

For instance, in the query about “intelligence,” the least expensive rating is “learns and thinks little by little.” But the professor mentioned that “deep learning does not come about speedily. In the humanities, we worth gradual, deliberate pondering, and identify that the most profound and long lasting mastering takes time. In truth, the most effective studying is the lifestyle-prolonged kind of learning.”

Or think about the problem inquiring for an evaluation on the applicant’s “teachability.”

  • Rigid, argumentative
  • Highly opinionated
  • Open up-minded
  • Willing to receive instruction
  • Keen to receive instruction
  • You should not know

“Very opinionated also would seem to be a detrimental trait they are searching to exclude,” the professor stated. “I prefer learners who have robust opinions but are open up to hearing the views of other people and to reconsidering their have.”

Other concerns also disturbed him.

There is a query on sexuality and irrespective of whether the applicants adhere to the insurance policies of Dallas Theological and “includes avoiding any pattern of dependancy and abstaining from homosexual, premarital, and extramarital sexual perform.”

And, if the applicant is married or engaged, the recommendation letter asks for an evaluation of the relationship as: “superficial,” “detached, aloof,” “reserved,” “warm, expanding” and “fantastic communication.”

On the seminary’s site, under “how we evaluate,” it states, “As an applicant, you will be evaluated on the foundation of (1) your tutorial data, (2) the extent and top quality of involvement in Christian provider, (3) your apparent items and prospective for placement into Christian ministry, and (4) the evaluation of your references.”

Are the Thoughts Lawful?

The initially problem quite a few may have is about the legality of inquiring these kinds of inquiries.

John Dyer, dean of enrollment providers and distance schooling at Dallas Theological, explained, “I reached out to our admissions director about the concerns we question, and he described that they are normally made to prompt a reviewer to give a holistic portrait of our candidates. As opposed to a classic graduate school that is primarily evaluating a candidate’s academic advantage and the capacity to research, as a seminary, DTS is also trying to get a sense of an applicant’s potential in a ministry location, this sort of as getting a pastor, chaplain, or certified therapist. For each individual applicant, we ask for a few references — personalized, pastoral and skilled — so some issues are much more relevant to each reference variety.”

He claimed a spokesman would respond to queries about no matter if it is authorized for the seminary to talk to those people issues, and other questions, but no spokesman at any time did.

Frank M. Yamada is executive director of the Association of Theological Educational institutions, of which the Dallas faculty is a member.

He reported the inquiries Dallas asks “usually are not common” and that it was significant for any admissions office asking them to have a obvious feeling of why it was asking those people inquiries.

A guidebook revealed by the affiliation on “Incapacity and Theological Instruction” claims of admissions, “Educational institutions retain the freedom to make acceptable judgments about students’ ideal opportunity for ministry, such as non secular maturity, moral integrity, and ministerial capability. Qualified pupils with disabilities should really have possible entry to theological education and should really be recruited with the identical care and enthusiasm as other learners. College students with disabilities ought to use for admission underneath the exact rules and careful screening as other college students to decide whether they have the gifts and readiness for lifetime and studying in a theological group and for upcoming spiritual management.”

The seminary’s nondiscrimination coverage does not point out disability standing. It states, “Dallas Theological Seminary admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the legal rights, privileges, applications, and things to do usually accorded or produced available to learners at the faculty. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, shade, countrywide and ethnic origin in administration of its instructional procedures, admissions guidelines, scholarship and bank loan systems, and athletic and other faculty-administered application.”

Incapacity is described in the seminary’s statement on Title IX of the Training Amendments of 1972: “Inside of the context of its theological convictions and mission, Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) does not discriminate on the basis of race, coloration, sex, age, national and ethnic origin, or disability.”

Segment 504

Portion 504 of the Rehabilitation Act bans faculties from discriminating against candidates on the basis of disability. Exclusively, it suggests schools “may well not make pre-admission inquiry as to regardless of whether an applicant for admission is a handicapped particular person but, soon after admission, could make inquiries on a confidential foundation as to handicaps that might demand lodging.”

But Stephan J. Smith, govt director of the Affiliation on Larger Education and Disability, said that if the seminary does not get any federal resources, it would be exempt from Section 504 and could question the issue about actual physical health. The seminary did acquire federal money beneath the COVID-19 reduction bill the CARES Act.

Asked if the seminary should really inquire the problem, Smith stated, “I do not have a perfect reply to your problem.”

He spelled out, “I think that experienced pupils should not be matter to discrimination dependent on speculation, stereotypes and generalizations about people with disabilities. That said, I identify some specific establishments may possibly not be lined by the needs established forth in the regulation.”

Angel B. Pérez, CEO of the Nationwide Association for College Admission Counseling, claimed, “The way I believe about this is: if you wouldn’t question a issue on an employer application or job interview, you likely should not talk to it for collegiate enrollment.”

What Did the Professor Do?

The professor continue to experienced to figure out what to do.

“I questioned an admissions counselor at DTS whether or not I could submit a letter assessing the student’s academic characteristics in lieu of the advice kind. I was explained to that I could submit a letter, but they hoped the letter would remedy as lots of of the concerns on the variety as I could. I took that to mean that DTS preferred me to in essence supply the exact same data requested on the sort by usually means of a letter,” he explained.

“Immediately after talking with the student about my problem, and with the student’s acceptance, I determined to compose a typical, academic reference letter (which I have not still published), which speaks to the student’s tutorial effectiveness in the programs she has taken with me,” he claimed. “I will essentially disregard most of the questions or sorts of information and facts they ask for on the normal sort.”