Crowds of Seawolves new and returning come out every year for an event that brings together the whole campus for one night only, one Big Nite. As an opportunity to enjoy games, rides, performances and get to know our campus’s clubs, departments and organizations, there is meant to be equal representation of everything we have to offer for the students.
Unfortunately, one club was unable to share what it’s all about this year, and now may never have the chance to formally promote itself again. The InterVarsity Christian chapter is no longer an official club.
After being granted an exemption for the 2013-14 school year from CSU Chancellor Timothy White, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship must now follow suit with Student Activities – Executive Order 1068, a policy issued by former chancellor Charles Reed which calls for recognized student groups to open the opportunity for all students to become potential leaders.
Under the group’s constitution, those who hold leadership roles must be within the Christian faith, thus being the reason the InterVarsity chapter is no longer being recognized as an affiliated student club due to discrimination as laid out in the policy. However, the organization as a whole is very diverse, with members exploring different faiths and religions.
The key factor is how the chapter is unwilling to make this change, as it feels if it leaders don’t believe in the Christian faith that this completely changes what the group is fundamentally representing.
One of the biggest issues it face is having to now pay extremely high fees with the loss of state funding as well as access to campus facilities, which some people may find ridiculous, and others seeing as perfectly fair. While there is students who feel their rights of freedom of speech and expression are being taken away, perhaps non-Christian members of the group see it differently.
There are those who believe anything that promotes discrimination should not be state funded, but how many members of the group who don’t share the same faith are even interested in a leadership role? While none of us can directly say, it’s partly the idea of someone out there that might be which truly counts.
So what does this mean for other religious groups on campus? While they may not restrict leadership based on their affiliation, does this mean they are safe to stay? This could only be the beginning of new policies taking place that will target far more than the InterVarsity chapter, such as other belief-based, political or certain interest-based clubs.
Overall we feel that these students deserved more time to get the situation under control, that the club has a right to be representing what it’s all about and shouldn’t have everything completely taken away from them. In an amendment to the ordinance, sororities and fraternities are exempted from gender discrimination, which is something those affiliated with InterVarsity would like to see as a similar compensation to its case in the future.
One thing can be said is how InterVarsity doesn’t force it views on other students, or coax anyone to join. Some people feel that it has a right to be represented on campus, and that students should have the option to join an organization of people who share its views. On the other hand, any sign of discrimination means much more to the campus as a whole.
Students should remember this is not just a Sonoma State issue. It’s a CSU-wide policy, one that is likely to see some backlash. InterVarsity students say they will continue to meet, but the question we are left with is, how far will this go? What clubs will be kicked off campus next?