Duke University Student Government unanimously voted to not recognize Young Life as an organization on campus. The reasoning behind this was apparently because they wouldn’t add a non-discrimination clause in their charter.
According to the The Chronicle, Duke University’s newspaper, Jeff Bennett, who is a master’s candidate at Duke Divinity said “We cannot go outside the bounds of national policies” when asked about amending the charter to have a non-discrimination clause. This was said despite that in the charter, the policy on”sexual misconduct” states “we do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”
When asked about LGBTQ+ students feeling too intimidated to be on the board or even attend meetings, senior Rachel Baber responded by saying the organization prides itself on an anti-discriminatory cause. Baber says that wouldn’t be an issue nor would anyone feel like they didn’t belong.
I think a lot of important things were missed during this whole proceeding that are quite interesting to think about.
First, Duke University started off as a Methodist university. It is widely known for the Duke Divinity School. The cross is featured on the official school seal. Across the campus, you can find the words “education and religion.”
Second, the nondiscrimination clause across campuses nationwide is very common; however, I don’t think people understand the implications of that. I agree that there shouldn’t be any discrimination when it comes to who can and can not join a club. However, when I was the president of an organization on campus, we had to constantly check people’s social media. Why? We had to confirm they really believed what we did. We were constantly fearing that many people would join, collect a majority, throw us out, and either make our group defunct or turn it into the wrong thing.
The idea that a Christian organization isn’t allowed on a school campus, that has a divinity school and is founded upon Christian principles, is disappointing. In fact, I would be interested to see if any other organizations have ever caused this much of a stir to the student government or if any other religious groups have been denied on the same basis for the exact same reason.