August 25, 2010

Skorton Approves S.A. Compromise in Resolution 75

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President David Skorton approved Student Assembly Resolution 75 this June. Passed by the S.A. in late April, the Resolution will extend protections against discrimination to the voting membership and leadership of University-recognized student organizations. The resolution came to pass  after Mike Wacker ’10 and LGBTQ Representative-at-Large Matt Danzer ’12 were able to put forth a compromise on its details. Both Wacker — a former sun columnist — and Danzer had authored conflicting resolutions on the issue, neither of which Skorton was willing to approve. While Danzer wanted to prevent student organizations from discrimination in the selection of their leaders and voting members, Wacker argued that groups could discriminate on the basis of their right to free speech and free expression. Resolution 75 will amend Appendix B of the S.A. Charter and hold organizations that receive Student Activity Fee funds –– either directly or indirectly –– responsible for upholding the extended discrimination protections.The groups will no longer be able to discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any combination of these factors.  Yet, organizations still will be allowed to impose standards for membership if it is the uniform “standard,” “belief,” or “conduct” within the club, so long as it is protected by the First Amendment in the context of a public university. For example, a religious organization would still be allowed to discriminate against members that do not uphold their religious beliefs.Resolution 75 is a long-awaited legislative solution to a  controversy over discrimination and freedom of expression that started in the spring of 2009. The Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship controversy, when it asked Chris Donohoe ’09 to step down from a leadership position in the organization after he openly came out as gay.

Original Author: Margo Cohen Ristorucci