In the spring semester of 2011, Grace University, a Midwest Christian college in Omaha, Nebraska decided to expel Danielle Powell, simply because she is gay. After her expulsion, Powell says she was told that she would have to repay the $6,300 of tuition for the semester she wasn't allowed to finish.
Recently married, and in the public eye after her very public proposal on the stage of a Macklemore concert, her wife Michelle Rogers has decided to create a petition through Change.org, asking Grace University to forgive Powell of the debt incurred by her expulsion from the school.
Powell entered her first relationship with a woman in the beginning of 2011. It didn't take the school long to catch wind of the fact that Powell was in a relationship with another woman, and due to Grace University's policies on sexual conduct, she was brought before a Judiciary Board.
At that time, Powell was a mere semester away from receiving her bachelor's degree from Grace – the first in her family. To avoid jeopardizing all of the hard work she had already completed to achieve her dreams, Danielle agreed to participate in a "restoration" program that called for therapy and regular church attendance, under the conditions of not being allowed to live on campus, and being barred from staying overnight in the dormitories.
After calling around to confirm that Powell was still in a lesbian relationship – investigatory tactics that Powell compares to a "witch hunt" – the board decided to expel Powell from the school. They stated that because Powell was "deceitful," it would be "unethical" for them to reinstate her to Grace.
Powell, who was involved in volleyball at the school, and led the initiative to start on-campus homeless outreach was told, "It would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral."
Because of the school's federal obligation to return her financial aid to the government, Powell was subsequently informed that her credits wouldn't be transferred before she paid back her $6,300 of essential funding she received to pay for her time at the school.
President David M. Barnes released a statement to the Grace University family saying he knows it is, "painful" to watch their "beloved University endure the scrutiny and criticism," of those who don't share or understand their values. Barnes claims that they have never barred Powell from transferring credits to another establishment, but Powell reported that she has only received an unofficial student copy of her transcript.
"College was always kind of one of those things I never thought was an option for me because of my financial background," Powell explained. Being the first of her family to graduate had always been a dream of hers, and because she doesn't have access to the $6,300 Grace is requiring her to pay back, she isn't able to transfer to another school.