By Erin Keating
Earlier this year, an Intervarsity student leader came out as gay to an Intervarsity staff advisor who works for the national chapter. The student admitted to being in a same-sex relationship and the staff advisor discussed this with the national chapter. The national chapter said that it was a violation of national IV policy. Although IV is open to all students, people in leadership positions are held to the beliefs and strict regulations of the national organization. One of these rules states that student leaders are not allowed to participate in actively sexual relationships.
The student was phased out of his role as a small group leader, but began to question the ethics behind his removal. He consulted the Student Government Association to explore the school’s nondiscrimination policy and rules for clubs. SGA and the student met and decided to set up a committee, headed by Andrew Miles and Raynor Sebring, to investigate. As part of the investigation, the committee met with the parties involved as well as Mike Pace, the general consult and legal advisor for Roanoke College. Mike Pace concluded that the school policy on discrimination (as seen in the student handbook), as well as the discrimination policy for clubs had been broken.
After this verdict had been reached, SGA needed to decide what action to take against Intervarsity. On March 24, in Fintel Library, there was a presentation by the commission in the SGA senate meeting which was open to the public. Dean Aaron Fetrow, Dean Brian Chisom, and Dean Jennifer Berenson were in attendance as the committee presented the policies and facts of the case. The initial recommended punishment was that IV would receive a budget cap of $500 from SGA for the next academic year and could conditionally be removed in the 2016-2017 school year. Their original reprimand was amended and the final bill stated that IV will receive no money from SGA until certain conditions are met. The most important of these conditions is that Intervarsity has to change their expectations of leadership roles in order to meet Roanoke College’s standards. According to an SGA senate member, the meeting went very smoothly with constructive conversation and discussions about future bills and amendments to firm Roanoke College’s nondiscrimination policy and future actions.