Something to Ponder over Christmas Break

In a move that is surprisingly redolent of politics as usual, the Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee of the University of Rhode Island Student Senate threw a controversial proposal into the agenda of the senate’s final meeting that delayed the re-recognition of student groups until next semester, according to The Good 5¢ Cigar:

A controversial proposal from Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee Chairman Evan Duggan-Lever would change the way groups are recognized and funded by the senate.
“The old system is old and busted,” Duggan-Lever said. “It doesn’t contain any guidelines or contain anything that allows the [SOARC] committee to decide what should be recognized.”
The proposed changes would bring the recognition process in line with Rhode Island laws and recent court rulings, Duggan-Lever said.

Some among the senators wondered whether the delay would be unnecessarily disruptive for student groups. Not to worry:

“All of the groups stand to benefit [from the proposed changes],” Duggan-Lever said. “The only groups that don’t stand to benefit are groups that are illegal.”

That’s curious: what sort of group that was previously recognized could possibly be illegal? Well, I can’t find any further information, online, but another piece in the latest Cigar might give some indication:

Several student groups currently recognized by the University of Rhode Island Student Senate are being asked to change their bylaws because they do not comply with procedures and standards set forth by the senate.
One such group is the Intervarsity Christian Association, Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee Chairman Evan Duggan-Lever said. It is recognized as a Level III group currently, he said, which is the lowest level and allows the group to ask the Memorial Union for meeting space and also ask the senate for contingency funds.

Apart from a minor issue — already addressed — having to do with regulations for electing official leadership, the far greater affront is one that readers might have guessed from the group’s name:

Another bylaw problem was an “article of faith” which required members to show their religious principles to join the group. This, Duggan-Lever said, is not allowed by senate regulations and as such was required by SOARC to be removed.
The group, however, still intends to continue the practice, Secretary Hope Aswell said.
“For our leadership, we want them to hold Christian values,” Aswell said, “because it is a Christian group.”

Hope Aswell — with her magnificent name — doesn’t apparently understand the game. In the America that is currently germinating on the country’s campuses, it’s fine for believers to, well, believe — if only because, as Duggan-Lever puts it, “We can’t determine what is in someone’s head.” However, as a constitutional matter, they have to effectively deny those beliefs, or at least make those beliefs subordinate to the doctrine of tolerance.
Former group president Jillian Burger looks for reason for optimism in the likelihood that only people meeting the unspeakable criterion would manage to become nominated. And that’s probably true… as long as the group remains quiet and innocuous enough that those who would take advantage of the universal right to join and lead it don’t think a coup worth the effort.

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