IVCF must change constitution to remain SA club
blog by UB Spectrum • January 30, 2012 @ 12:12am
The Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) must get rid of the “basis of faith” that its officers must subscribe to if it wants to maintain its status as a Student Association-recognized club.
On Sunday the SA Senate adopted a resolution to lift the IVCF suspension that was imposed in December, after former IVCF Treasurer (and SA Assembly Speaker) Steven Jackson resigned and accused the club of forcing him out because he is gay.
Jackson’s resignation sparked an investigation into whether the club’s constitution is in line with university and legal anti-discrimination policies. IVCF’s constitution requires officers to subscribe to a “basis of faith” in evangelical Christian beliefs such as the “entire trustworthiness and authority” of the Bible, including the verses condemning homosexuality that Jackson came to disagree with.
The SA resolution will allow IVCF to meet, draft a new constitution, and ratify a new constitution, but it also imposes a new fiscal suspension, effectively freezing the club’s SA budget, which was comprised of $6,000 in mandatory student activity fee money at the beginning of the school year.
IVCF has until Feb. 25 to pass and submit a new constitution; if it fails to do so, the SA Senate could impose further repercussions, including full de-recognition of the club.
At its last two meetings, the SA Senate created a committee to investigate the allegations against IVCF. The committee – Special Interests and Special Hobbies (IVCF’s club council) coordinator Adam Zimnicki, SA Vice President Meghan McMonagle, Engineering coordinator Dan Pastuf, and on-campus senator Daniel Ovadia – determined that IVCF’s constitution does violate UB policy – specifically, the “University at Buffalo Student Code of Conduct,” which states:
“Any organization with restrictive membership clauses which discriminates based on the basis of race, religion, sex (except as exempted by federal regulations), sexual orientation, disability, age, creed, national origin, or veteran status will not obtain or maintain university registration/recognition.”
IVCF supporters have argued that the club is not in violation of the policy because it does not require its general membership to subscribe to its basis of faith; it only requires its officers to do so. But the SA committee considers the ability to run for office of a club as a right of being a member of the club.
“We make no distinction between membership and leadership and deem them to be one and the same,” Ovadia said during the committee’s presentation to the Senate.
UB’s IVCF is a local chapter of a national organization, and UB’s Campus Ministries Association also recognizes the club. If the IVCF eliminates its basis of faith, the national Intervarsity Christian Fellowship might not recognize the group.
IVCF outreach coordinator Quinten Hall-Lochmann Van Bennekom requested that the Senate give the club until April to resolve its constitutional conflict with SA and its national organization.
“We just want to work with both organizations,” Van Bennekom said to the SA Senate. “We’re trying to accommodate both. It’s a legal process, and it does take time.”
But SA senators thought it was important that the SA’s requirements come before those of an outside organization, and they imposed the Feb. 25 deadline.
In an interview with The Spectrum Van Bennekom called the SA’s ruling “very fair.”
By LUKE HAMMILL, senior news editor