ReJOYce chartering forestalls lawsuit

By William Loeffel
Special Assignments Editor

Josh Freeman
Undergraduate Student Body President David Skinner believes that the "right choice" was made.

Under the threat of a possible lawsuit, both the Undergraduate Student Council and the Graduate Student Senate voted to charter ReJOYce in Jesus Campus Ministry after more than a year of discussion. The discussion centered around the apparent religion-discriminatory language in ReJOYce's constitution.
Specifically, the constitution states that "a voting member of this organization shall agree to conduct himself or herself in accordance with the following standards of personal conduct set forth herein." One of these standards states, "A voting member of this organization shall not commit those acts which are expressly forbidden in Scripture, including idolatry, premarital or extramarital sex, homosexual behavior, drunkenness, coveting, theft, profanity, occult practices, and dishonesty."
ReJOYce also cites some references from the Bible. One of these references is from the New Testament, in the letter that Paul wrote to the Romans. Romans 1:26-27 states, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error."
Some members SGA balked at the exclusion of homosexuals as voting members. Some current groups have similar restrictions on officers but not on voting members, according to Elaine Newton, Vice President of Undergraduate Student Council, who broke a deadlocked 21-21 vote in USC by voting for the bill.
The Board of Regents' policy reads, "no student [of the] University System, on the ground of race, color, sex, religion, creed, national origin, age or handicap, [may] be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia or any of its several institutions now in existence or hereafter established."
The Georgia Tech policy adds sexual orientation as another ground by which a person may not be discriminated against.
Last Spring, ReJOYce obtained a lawyer. In a letter to the Chair of the Joint Campus Organizations Committee, Veronica Tai, Steven McFarland from the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom stated that "Governing law requires the university to recognize the RIJCM chapter." He ended the letter with an allusion to possible lawsuit. He said, "We look forward to resolving this matter without litigation, if at all possible."
SGA went to its advisor, Dean of Students Gail DiSabatino, who, in turn, went to Georgia Tech Legal. GT Legal went to Board of Regents Legal, who asked the Attorney General from the State of Georgia, Thurbert E. Baker his opinion of the situation.
Baker gave his opinion on two questions, "(1) May Georgia Tech, without violating the constitutional rights of its students, recognize ReJOYce as a student organization despite its requirement that voting members be Christians?"
"(2) May Georgia Tech, without violating the constitutional rights of its students/ReJOYce organizers, refuse to recognize ReJOYce as a student organization due to its requirement that voting members be Christians?"
He answered "yes" on the first and "no" on the second, therefore saying that he was of the opinion that chartering the group would not violate students constitutional rights, but that refusing to charter the group would violate the students in ReJOYce's rights.
In order to obtain a charter, 50 percent of the combined number of Senators and Council members had to vote for the bill.

Copyright © 1998 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student Publications Board

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