CMC Decides Against Quashing Christian Student Group
This evening, the President of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC)—the college’s student government—released an email to the student body of Claremont McKenna College announcing that the Claremont College’s local chapter of InterVarsity—5CIV—was no longer under review. Previously, ASCMC had defunded 5CIV and planned to vote on the potential dissolution of the Christian fellowship organization in their next Executive Board meeting on October 22nd. In addition to being free from the threat of dissolution, 5CIV has been encouraged to apply for funding in the spring semester.
In his email, the President of ASCMC stated that the Student Senate had been concerned that InterVarsity, as a national organization, excluded LGBTQIA+ members from leadership roles. However, he went on to clarify that this turned out to be a reiteration of InterVarsity’s theological position on human sexuality. The statement in question—which InterVarsity released last year—acknowledged “that LGBTQI people have experienced great pain, including much caused by Christians” and stated that InterVarsity “continue[s] to employ individuals who have an LGBTQI identity and who affirm our theological beliefs around human sexuality.”
The President of ASCMC went on to write: “The initial concern was that if such a statement did come from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, students of the LGBTQIA+ community who espouse the Christian faith would be excluded from joining or performing leadership roles in the Claremont 5CIV organization.”
He explained that, upon reviewing the situation with Nyree Gray, Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and Devon MacIver, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Orientation, ASCMC found “no cases reported in which students at CMC have been unwelcome by 5CIV.” Therefore, the 5CIV was found not to be in violation of the school’s non-discrimination clause.”
Kate Vosburg, 5CIV’s Staff Minister, told the Independent that 5CIV leaders contacted Ms. Gray earlier this week regarding ASCMC’s upcoming vote. Ms. Gray had been previously unaware of the situation, including ASCMC’s denial of funding to 5CIV.
According to Vosburg, after Ms. Gray had reviewed the situation in full, she “respectfully and clearly” explained to ASCMC that it did not have the authority to derecognize 5CIV, as it was a 5C club. Moreover, Ms. Gray stated that no student organization could be dissolved for its religious beliefs so long as it affirmed the non-discrimination clause and abided by other campus rules…ASCMC senators were receptive to what she said and ready to change their actions accordingly.”
“I’m grateful that the basic American liberties of freedom of religion and freedom of assembly have been preserved at the Claremont Colleges.” Vosburg stated, “This is not just good for 5CIV. This is good for all other religious groups and for groups who represent a minority group or opinion. The administration has preserved space for diversity of beliefs at Claremont which is essential for Claremont to be a place of higher learning.”
Claremont McKenna College (CMC) is part of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, which includes four other undergraduate institutions: Pomona College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College.
The body of the ASCMC President’s email can be found below:
Last year, it was brought to ASCMC and other 5C student Senate’s attention that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national organization with an affiliated 5C Chapter at the Claremont Colleges, did not allow LGBTQIA+ members of the national organization to serve in leadership roles. In actuality, the organization reiterated their theological position.
The initial concern was that if such a statement did come from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, students of the LGBTQIA+ community who espouse the Christian faith would be excluded from joining or performing leadership roles in the Claremont 5CIV organization. After conversations with Nyree Gray, Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and Devon MacIver, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Orientation, we have identified no cases reported in which students at CMC have been unwelcome by 5CIV. All organizations registered through the colleges must have a nondiscrimination clause in their constitution. 5CIV’s governing documents contains this required clause, which is why it continues to exist as an on-campus organization. Furthermore, the 5C recognition process is facilitated by Pomona College which is reviewed and approved by each of the Claremont Colleges via the Student Deans Committee. It is worth noting that the 5C recognition process virtually mirrors our own at CMC. Because of these facts, ASCMC will not vote to rescind recognition of 5CIV at the next Executive Board Meeting scheduled on 10/22 and will work with 5CIV and other 5C student governments to ensure that 5CIV continues to be an inclusive organization and supports students in every way that it can.
ASCMC and all clubs registered at the CMC or 5C level are required to have a nondiscrimination clause in their governing documents to ensure that all groups on campus welcome all students. If any students, or any group of students, experience discrimination by any organization, I urge you to reach out to Nyree Gray at [email retracted]. Please know that ASCMC supports you. As we see our nation growing more and more divided, I hope we can take a moment in our own community to affirm the values of respect and support.
If anyone has any questions or wants to talk privately, I’m always willing to lend another ear and can direct you to many other helpful people.